X-ray vision for real-world heroes
An Israeli startup's invention will let rescue workers see through walls -- and save lives.
(Business 2.0) - How many lives would be saved if firefighters could see right into buildings? Until recently, few but the U.S. military and certain SWAT teams had radar equipment that could locate people through walls. Now an Israeli startup called Camero is marketing a version of the technology to police, fire, and rescue teams.
Camero's device, the Xaver (pronounced "saver") 800, emits an ultra-wideband signal that travels through plaster, brick, and even reinforced concrete. It then calculates the distance and orientation of everything on the other side--people, furniture, weapons--in real time. "A rescue worker can locate trapped people in a matter of seconds," says Camero CEO Aharon Aharon. Dense walls reduce Xaver's maximum viewing distance of 26 feet, but Aharon predicts that within five years, new technology will enable the device to see as far as 300 feet into a building.
Camero isn't the only company trying to commercialize X-ray vision. Alabama-based Time Domain sells a $33,000 gadget called RadarVision2 that displays moving objects as radarlike blips. But the Xaver pieces together a full three-dimensional image of each person it locates.
Motorola corporate VP for equity investments Warren Holtsberg, who funds fewer than 25 new companies a year, passed on Time Domain but bankrolled Camero, saying it delivers "better picture quality than any other through-wall imaging company." Camero attracted $6.6 million from four investors in 2004, and expects to ship the $100,000-plus Xaver by year's end to police departments and rescue workers eligible to buy it under FCC regulations. The company also plans to sell a stripped-down version (shorter range, lower resolution) for as little as $25,000. Not cheap, but for many--Aharon says he has eager clients in Europe, Israel, and the United States--it's a small price to pay to see behind closed doors.