The Police force and Fire-fighters, day in and day out put themselves in dangerous scenarios to save lives. On a daily basis these service people enter buildings, without the knowledge of what is inside and what dangers await them as they enter. Anything from dangerous armed gunmen, to structurally faulty rooms can be on the other side of the door they are about to walk in to.
A US start-up company called Bounce Imaging are attempting to solve this problem even if it’s just in the slightest. They have produced a small spherical device shaped almost like a tennis ball that has cameras positioned around it, sending 360 degree images to a receiving device.
The spherical device can have an ultimately endless range of uses. For example disaster search and rescue teams after an earthquake would be able to use the spherical device to drop into pockets air pockets and collapsed spaces in search of victims. The ball can serve many useful purposes in many life threating incidents. Bounce Imaging are not the first company to come up with the idea, similar devices have been tested through the years. in the 1990s scientists came up with a spherical 360 degree camera for such use, but the difference was it had to be attached to a robot.
Bounce Imaging say the difference between them and other similar products on the market is other companies a producing kit worth up to $5,000 per unit where the product they have produced comes in at a tenth of that price. The other difference is other products on the market are very specialist technologically orientated products, which need skilled operators to operate the equipment. The camera ball that Bounce Imaging created throws all complexities out of the window.
Bounce Imaging’s Founder Francisco Aguilar describes how in life threatening situations where every single second counts emergency professionals don’t want to be working with complex remote terminals controlling camera units, he says “it’s much easier to just look on a smartphone strapped to your wrist.” The fact that the ball created doesn’t need a special receiving terminal, and can be used with smartphones and tablets is a great bonus point in favour of this product.
Noel Sharkey, AI expert and professor at the University of Sheffield agrees with the great uses this technology brings to the table but also identifies its privacy implications. He says “This could be brilliant from a photogenic point of view but it could be a further intrusion on our privacy.” If you think from the other side of the coin, this technology can be used to spy and intrude, people are already worrying about their personal space being violated this device could only make it worse in the wrong hands.
As with all fantastic innovative technology, it is going to break boundaries, good and bad. In such a case like this you really need to weigh up if the pros beat the cons, and I personally believe they do, an item that can save people’s lives, which may be used in the wrong hands simply to invade people’s privacy a little more, I think it’s a no brainer, but maybe introduce legislation around the item, restricting it from falling in the wrong hands.
- License: Creative Commons image source