It has six cameras. It’s throwable. And, if you’re a cop, a soldier or a member of a search-and-rescue team, it can save your life — or someone else’s.
It’s called the Explorer, and after three years in the making, it’s finally ready for commercial release.
Boston-based Bounce Imaging is shipping its first 100 Explorers to paying customers, including police departments in California, Texas and Washington, as well as free ones to the North Metro SWAT team in Massachusetts and the Maine Department of Corrections, both of which have tested the device and given the company feedback over the years.
The idea for the Explorer first came to Bounce Imaging’s founder, Francisco Aguilar, around 2010, when he was watching search-and-rescue efforts in the days after the earthquake in Haiti.
“The number of people rescued was relatively low, and the technology they were using to search inside collapsed buildings was expensive,” said Aguilar, a graduate of Harvard and the MIT Sloan School of Management. “My goal was to develop modern technology at a reasonable price for people who put themselves on the line for us every day.”
Aguilar launched the company in 2012. And after it was named one of the winners of the MassChallenge startup accelerator and competition that year, he began getting inquiries from police departments around the country.
“Their officers were going into dangerous situations every day, like searching for gunmen in attics and getting shot in the face,” he said. “The inability to see inside those spaces can get you killed or lead you to use more force than necessary, because you don’t know what you’re getting into.”
After three years of research and development, the product that emerged was about the size of a softball, with six wide-angle cameras capable of seeing in every direction and LEDs to light up the darkest space.
The images the Explorer’s cameras take are transmitted via a Wi-Fi hot spot inside the device to an app on the user’s cellphone. And at $1,500, or $2,500 for an Explorer with infrared vision, the price is a fraction of what many robots cost, Aguilar said.
“It’s a huge advantage,” said Revere Police Chief Joseph Cafarelli, head of the North Metro SWAT team. “Instead of putting an officer in harm’s way, a device is getting you the intelligence you need to hopefully bring the situation to a peaceful conclusion.”
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.