Published On: Fri, Jun 26th, 2015

Throwable Camera Sends Panoramic Images to Your Smartphone

A softball-sized tactical camera that can be tossed into secret areas to send breathtaking images behind to a smartphone is set for blurb release.

Unseen areas are heavy for military and initial responders: Rooms can bay dangerous gunmen, while collapsed buildings can disguise survivors. Now Bounce Imaging, founded by an MIT alumnus, is giving officers and rescuers a protected glance into a unknown.

In July, a Boston-based startup will recover a initial line of tactical spheres, versed with cameras and sensors, that can be tossed into potentially dangerous areas to now broadcast breathtaking images of those areas behind to a smartphone.

“It fundamentally gives a discerning comment of a dangerous situation,” says Bounce Imaging CEO Francisco Aguilar MBA ’12, who invented a device, called a Explorer.

Launched in 2012 with assistance from a MIT Venture Mentoring Service (VMS), Bounce Imaging will muster 100 Explorers to military departments nationwide, with aims of branching out to initial responders and other clients in a nearby future.

The softball-sized Explorer is lonesome in a thick rubber shell. Inside is a camera with 6 lenses, peeking out during opposite indented spots around a circumference, and LED lights. When activated, a camera snaps photos from all lenses, a few times any second. Software uploads these manifold images to a mobile device and stitches them together fast into full breathtaking images. There are skeleton to supplement sensors for radiation, temperature, and CO monoxide in destiny models.

For this initial production run, a startup aims to accumulate feedback from police, who work in what Aguilar calls a “reputation-heavy market.” “You wish to make certain we broach good for your initial customer, so they suggest we to others,” he says.

Steered right by VMS

Over a years, media coverage has praised a Explorer, including in Wired, a BBC, NBC, Popular Science, and Time — that named a device one of a best inventions of 2012. Bounce Imaging also warranted tip prizes during a 2012 MassChallenge Competition and a 2013 MIT IDEAS Global Challenge.

Instrumental in Bounce Imaging’s early development, however, was a VMS, that Aguilar incited to shortly after combining Bounce Imaging during a MIT Sloan School of Management. Classmate and U.S. Army maestro David Young MBA ’12 assimilated a plan early to yield a viewpoint of an end-user.

“The VMS directed us right in many ways,” Aguilar says. “When we don’t know what you’re doing, it’s good to have other people who are running we and conversing you.”

Leading Bounce Imaging’s advisory group was Jeffrey Bernstein SM ’84, a mechanism scientist who had co-founded a few tech startups — including PictureTel, directly out of connoisseur school, with a late MIT highbrow David Staelin — before entrance to VMS as a coach in 2007.

Among other things, Bernstein says a VMS mentors helped Bounce Imaging navigate, for roughly dual years, in appropriation and partnering strategies, recruiting a core group of engineers and substantiating a initial marketplace — instead of focusing on technical challenges. “The details of a record are customarily not a primary areas of concentration in VMS,” Bernstein says. “You need to know a market, and we need good people.”

In that way, Bernstein adds, Bounce Imaging already had a leg up. “Unlike many ventures I’ve seen, a Bounce Imaging group came in with a unequivocally transparent thought of what need they were addressing and since this was critical for genuine people,” he says.

Bounce Imaging still reaches out to a VMS mentors for advice. Another “powerful apparatus for alumni companies,” Aguilar says, was a VMS list of formerly mentored startups. Over a years, Aguilar has pinged that list for a operation of advice, including on production and appropriation issues. “It’s such a absolute list, since MIT alumni companies are amazingly inexhaustible to any other,” Aguilar says.

The right initial market

From a mentor’s perspective, Bernstein sees Bounce Imaging’s stream blurb success as a outcome of “finding that right initial market,” that helped it overcome early technical challenges. “They got a lot of unequivocally good patron feedback unequivocally early and shaped a genuine bargain of a market, permitting them to rise a product though a lot of uncertainty,” he says.

Aguilar recognised of a Explorer after a 2010 Haiti earthquake, as a tyro during both MIT Sloan and a Kennedy School of Government during Harvard University. International search-and-rescue teams, he learned, could not simply find survivors trapped in a rubble, as they were regulating unwieldy fiber-optic cameras, that were formidable to scheme and too costly for far-reaching use. “I started looking into low-cost, unequivocally elementary technologies to span with your smartphone, so we wouldn’t need special training or apparatus to demeanour into these dangerous areas,” Aguilar says.

The Explorer was primarily grown for initial responders. But after being swept adult in a flurry of inhabitant and general pleasantness from winning a $50,000 grand esteem during a 2012 MassChallenge, Bounce Imaging started fielding countless requests from military departments — that became a aim market.

Months of severe contrast with departments opposite New England led Bounce Imaging from a clunky antecedent of a Explorer — “a Medusa of cables and wires in a 3D-printed bombard that was nowhere nearby throwable,” Aguilar says — by about 20 serve iterations.

But they also schooled pivotal lessons about what military needed. Among a many critical lessons, Aguilar says, is that military are underneath so most vigour in potentially dangerous situations that they need something unequivocally easy to use. “We had installed a complement adult with all sorts of options and buttons and nifty things — though really, they only wanted a picture,” Aguilar says.

Neat tricks

Today’s Explorer is designed with a few “neat tricks,” Aguilar says. First is a custom, six-lensed camera that pulls tender images from a lenses concurrently into one processor. This reduces complexity and reduces a cost tab of regulating 6 apart cameras.

The round also serves as a possess wireless hotspot, by Bounce Imaging’s network, that a mobile device uses to fast squeeze those images — “because a blazing building substantially isn’t going to have Wi-Fi, though we still wish … to work with a initial responder’s existent smartphone,” Aguilar says.

But a pivotal innovation, Aguilar says, is a image-stitching software, grown by engineers during a Costa Rican Institute of Technology. The software’s algorithms, Aguilar says, vastly revoke computational bucket and work around sound and other image-quality problems. Because of this, it can tack mixed images in a fragment of a second, compared with about one notation by other methods.

In fact, after a Explorer’s release, Aguilar says Bounce Imaging might choice a image-stitching record for drones, video games, movies, or smartphone technologies. “Our categorical concentration is creation certain a [Explorer] works good in a market,” Aguilar says. “And afterwards we’re perplexing to see what sparkling things we can do with a imaging processing, that could vastly revoke computational mandate for a operation of industries building around immersive video.”

Source: Rob Matheson, MIT News Office

Images: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT (photo pleasantness of Bounce Imaging

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