SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Imagine you’re part of a special forces team, and you’re crouching outside a room you’re half-sure is full of armed terrorists.
You could go with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and just wing it. Or you could roll an Explorer into the room and instantly see, hear, and sense what was going on without risking a single life or limb.
Explorer is a thousand-dollar, 1-pound, baseball-sized sphere encrusted with cameras, sensors, and microphones. It’s rugged design provides for throwing, reusing, and recharging. And you can view and hear the data it receives on any smartphone or tablet.
It’s a device for quickly gathering intelligence when you need it most, when lives are at stake, when buildings are burning, when bridges have collapsed, or when containers need to be inspected. It gives you a level of situational awareness previously difficult to achieve.
At DEMO today, the Bounce Imaging team, makers of the Explorer, gave a presentation on the device and its many use cases for soldiers, police, and rescue workers.
“Robots and drones should address this problem, but they’re too expensive and complex,” said cofounder David Young onstage, noting that the device can also sense toxic gases and carbon monoxide.
“What’s really cool is we’re designing with the end-user’s operating environment,” Young continued. “We’ll begin field-testing with law enforcement agencies within the next month.”
Here it is in action:
One concern we have is purely nationalistic. Does this technology constitute a weapon? Could, say, the aforementioned terrorists purchase it? Could later versions be equipped with actual weapons, like gases or viruses?
In the right hands, the Explorer enables heroes to continue safeguarding those they love. In the wrong hands, it becomes a rolling drone for targeting the innocent, committing crimes, or evading law enforcement.
So the question becomes, how do you keep the Explorer out of the wrong hands while maintaining an open market for an innovative device?
Currently, Explorer units are available for a sort of pre-preorder for first responders, commercial customers, and “personal use.” The last category is a bit disturbing, but we’ll see where this goes and how the company proceeds ethically and politically.
More: MobileBeat 2016 is focused on the paradigm shift from apps to AI, messaging, and chatbots. Don't miss this opportunity: July 12 and 13 in San Francisco.