Imagine being on a SWAT team charged with disarming violent crooks in a meth lab, and knowing that every year, more than 50,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted.
It might be comforting to begin your raid by sending in an Eye Ball R1, a remote-controlled, spherical camera about the size of a baseball that can give its users a 360-degree look at the device’s surroundings.
“The Eye Ball provides safety by providing law enforcement and military personnel with higher degrees of visibility and insight into their environments,” said Asher Gendelman, spokesman for Remington Technologies, a new division of Remington Arms, which has an exclusive license to the technology and will manufacture the device.
The Eye Ball can be tossed into potentially dangerous situations and deliver real-time audio and video via a wireless link to officers who want to get a quick view of what they’re walking into.
The camera is rugged enough to be dropped from a two-story building or thrown hard onto a concrete floor or into any space where police or soldiers want to pursue suspects, serve warrants, locate hostages or search for contraband.
“If you’re pursuing someone who may have hidden in an attic or a crawl space, cabinet, a basement or parking garage — a lot of policemen are assaulted when they pop their heads in, without knowing where the suspects are,” said Ron Cottingham, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California and a San Diego police officer.
The Eye Ball is controlled by a wireless remote control about the size of a large PDA. Using the control unit, which has a color display, officials can manipulate the camera to get a view from any angle they want — to check out a space where they believe suspects may be hiding or explosives may have been planted.
The camera has a three-hour battery life, can rotate at four revolutions a minute and capture 55-degree horizontal and 41-degree vertical views. The camera is built into the top half of the device and can be rotated, while the base of the Eye Ball remains static once it has landed. If the Eye Ball lands upside down, officers can flip the video feed. Using a video-out port in the remote control, video and audio can be saved to tape or DVD for use as evidence.
The camera can gather information on the number of entrances and exits, barricades, tripwires and even the state of mind of hostages. It can be attached to poles and ropes and dangled into stairwells where law enforcement officers are often especially vulnerable to attack. The control pad also activates the Eye Ball’s near-infrared night vision for after-dark operations.
“You never know what’s going to happen on the job,” said Cottingham. “Two uniformed police officers responding to a domestic-disturbance call earlier this year were shot and killed just walking up to the house. The more information they have before going into a volatile situation, the better.”
by Abby Christopher