back to article US police to throw big balls in criminals' faces

Next month, 100 US police departments will start deploying a new, ball-shaped camera that can be thrown into dangerous areas to scout out life-threatening situations. Youtube Video The system, dubbed Explorer Tactical, is a camera contained in a rubberized ball the size of a grapefruit, with six recessed lenses feeding data …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge

    Impressive

    The force is strong with you.

    Does he not look just a bit like Darth Vader?

  2. JP19

    Limited application?

    What if the crim in the video had shut the door? Looks like a fire door so it should have been shut anyway.

    Can't help thinking a camera on the end of a stick would do as good a job in most real world situations. Or a mirror if you want to be really cheap.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Limited application?

      There is also a pole attachment ($19.95) so it can be used that way.

      There is also a "tether" ($29.95) (aka. bit of string) in case you don't want it to roll away. Hopefully it's waterproof and buoyant in case it rolls down a drain.

      1. Bloodbeastterror

        Re: Limited application?

        $19.95? Nah. That's the civilian price. For the taxpayer-funded boys in black, a special deal - a snip at $299.95...

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Limited application?

      Bouncing grapefruit: $2500

      Mirror-onna-stick: $20

      I wonder what the life expectancy of the ball is, i.e. how many times it can be used before it becomes unreliable?

      Also, once police start using them as standard, what countermeasures crims will start to deploy against it? Off the top of my head: soot, oil or glue on the floor, smoke or steam in the air, or simply the suspect disguising himself as an item of furniture by putting a sheet over his head, should suffice in most circs.

      But none of that really matters. The cops get a nice new toy to play with, the local politicians who pay their bills get to subsidise an American business that they've doubtless bought shares in, and everyone's happy.

      If I were a cop, I'd be worried about why the ad emphasises "single-officer use". Am I to be expected to go into situations like that shown without backup, even from a single partner, now?

      1. Number6

        Re: Limited application?

        The obvious one is a WiFi jammer, put out enough noise and they won't get to see the image. For added fun, but beyond the average perp, might be a spoof device so that the image received is not the one from the ball. Given its roots as a humanitarian device, I wonder how good its security is. If all else fails, a baseball bat might be adequate countermeasure, either to return the ball if it comes in high enough, or simply to just squash it. The physical methods will probably work until the police had had training in how and where to throw it.

        On the other side, if it's a bit bouncy, one could send it round corners, harder to do with a mirror on a stick. And if you think of the latest Star Wars robot, BB8, you could make a mobile version.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Limited application?

        "I wonder what the life expectancy of the ball is, i.e. how many times it can be used before it becomes unreliable?"

        Once (physically), if it goes up against someone with a shotgun.

        Once (practically), if it goes up against anyone with enough sense to toss a cover over it (shirts will do nicely, thanks)

    3. Roq D. Kasba

      Re: Limited application?

      Rubbish video, but a range of 60m suggests far more useful use cases could be possible. Perhaps down a couple of floors in a smoke-filled stairway, for instance?

  3. Jim 43

    I can't wait for the headlines

    The .01% of cops with no sense of career preservation are going to find amazing new ways to get their departments sued with this thing.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I can't wait for the headlines

      Oh... I can see some spoiled teenager rolling one into the girl's locker room and posting on FB about how clever he is.

  4. Peter Clarke 1
    Mushroom

    Unlisted Add On

    A small explosive device triggered by an accelerometer when the bad guy kicks it out of his way

  5. asdf Silver badge

    expensive but the real reason

    I guess SWAT was tired of looking like their were an occupation force in the US when they would break Grandma's door down due to some POS mom's basement twerp having a laugh. *Throws ball. Ah shit Matlock's on the TV and I see Luby's coupons (sorry southwest joke), false alarm.

  6. netean

    Totally unrealistic

    What a terrible video, totally unrealistic.

    Like all US Cops he was clearly supposed to shoot the "perp" once he dropped his weapon, but maybe he couldn't because he wasn't running away or maybe he were going to easy on him because he was white and just beat him up with his nightstick!

    1. Number6

      Re: Totally unrealistic

      Of course, that's the downside of a camera, the cops will have to learn how to delete images.

  7. VinceH
    FAIL

    "Bounce Imaging CEO Francisco Aguilar says he got the idea for the device after hearing about the problems rescuers in the 2010 Haitian earthquake were having finding survivors in the rubble of ruined buildings"

    Of course he did.

    And slightly more recent, there's also this - that's the one I remembered, which is why I searched and found the one above.

    1. Bad Fish

      VinceH

      Surely the idea goes back to the Zeroids in Terrahawks back in the 1980s, as seen here for example:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dneGtDWZM6U

      1. Anonymous Coward
  8. PJF
    Coat

    WiFi?

    What good will it be if they toss one at/for us geeks/nerds?

    WiFi, cell, heck any RF can be jammed/blocked. Even a simple frequency generator can do it...

    I'll get mine, it's in the Faraday closet.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: WiFi?

      " Even a simple frequency generator can do it..."

      Or an arcing lightswitch. Easy enough to do that under most circumstances.

  9. therebel

    They could halve the cost of these.... for every one bought buy a black ball of similar size. As soon as crooks know what they are they'll know the cops know where they're hiding and either come out or give up. If every other one of these thrown in a room was a fake it would have the same effect.

    I wonder how much a flash grenade costs in comparison.

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Cost Comparison

      I wonder how much a flash grenade costs in comparison.

      Cost of Explorer Tactical: $2,495

      Cost of flash bang grenade: up to $2.6 million

      Seems like a pretty good deal all around. Even so, this is hardly a new concept with other models costing substantially less. Having stated that, I would prefer to use the i-Ball which makes up for its name by allowing users to fire it from a grenade launcher.

  10. Old Handle
    Thumb Up

    I remember these, you could get them in Thief II. They were fun.

  11. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Coat

    Did anyone else read the headline and think "The Prisoner"? I suppose these are better for indoor use; isn't miniaturisation wonderful.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next: Half Life 2 magnetic balls

    Zing!

    Now where is my gravity gun?

  13. Jamesit

    If I saw one of those heading my way I would grab a bat an see if I could get a home run:-)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So a perp needs a ditch or a high-pole carpet and a jammer?

    You stop this thing from rolling/bouncing and transmitting and it's not going to be of much use.

    Thankfully, no hardened criminal wants to be seen wearing a coat, so they won't have anything to throw over the device. Phew, dodged that one...

    The video is unrealistic in that it suggests an single officer would now be safe enough to go into such situations on their own, but it's possible that this is merely an attempt to avoid the issue that it only supports one viewport instead of being hooked up into a tactical net that also allows recording.

    On the plus side, it will help with the dumber ones, disorganised crime, so to speak, but I personally don't think that's where the danger comes from (so it would be hard to justify the purchase).

  15. M7S
    Coat

    Rover's* little cousin

    "Come in No. 6, your time is up".

    The blazer with the contrasting trim, thank you

    *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rover_(The_Prisoner) for those not realising that they have been pushed, filed, stamped etc etc

    Be seeing you.

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