Thousands of our soldiers die every year trying to fight the highly skilled guerilla warriors in Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East. Most of them die trying to salvage a hostage situation or attacking terrorist hiding inside buildings. A high number of deaths happen because soldiers are fighting in an unknown territory whereas the terrorist know the hiding places. If only we had a portable device that could help our soldiers see the area before they are enter, it could reduce the number of casualties to a great extent.
Knowing the importance of this a company called Bounce Imaging from Boston has made a device called ‘The Explorer’. It’s a simple ball that has 6 cameras and can be thrown in the war zone to see behind walls and hiding places. The cameras on the ball stream a panoramic video of the place back to the synced Smartphone.
The designer of the ‘The Explorer’ device is Francisco Aguilar; he is an MIT alumnus and made the device with the help of the school’s Venture Monitoring Service (VMS). Talking about the device he said, “It basically gives a quick assessment of a dangerous situation.” He also said that just a few months ago the device looked like “a Medusa of cables and wires in a 3D-printed shell that was nowhere near throw able.”
Ever since the announcement of ‘The Explorer’, the device has been highly appreciated and has gone on to win many awards and recognitions from companies like Time Magazine, Popular Science and Wired.
The Explorer is of the size of a softball with the outer layer being of rubber which makes it shock and impact resistant and multi usable. The device’s onboard Wifi streamer can send Video links to as far as 60 Feets and it can work for 30 minutes on a single charge with “full flash intensity”. This ensures that the device can also work in area where density of light is low.
To make ‘The Explorer’ a successful product Mr. Aguilar spent 2 years of his time trying to perfect the device. The low cost 3D printed prototypes made sure the cost of the product development was kept under control. It is a copy book case study for someone who is trying to do research on how 3d printing can help reduce the pre production cost for a highly innovative design.