The Camero system will initially be targeted towards Fire & Rescue, Law Enforcement and Special Forces operatives. Its radar system produces three-dimensional pictures of the space behind a wall from a distance of up to 20 meters.One of the biggest obstacles facing rescue teams or military operations around the globe is not knowing what’s on the other side of the wall.
Countless wasted hours and even possible loss of life are at risk if a rescue team has to enter blaze-engulfed room without knowing if there are victims inside.
Likewise, police or soldiers attempting to raid a building or room are at an extreme disadvantage by not knowing what awaits them on the other side in terms of manpower and firepower.
It may sound like a super hero ability worthy of Superman, but now an Israeli company is actually developing a unique, portable “through-wall imaging micro-power radar,” which will enable rescue forces and military units to operate more effectively in saving lives and protecting their own lives.
Jerusalem-based Camero Inc. recently announced closure of a Series A financing round led by Jerusalem Global Ventures, and joined by Motorola Ventures, the venture capital arm of Motorola Inc. and Walden Israel Venture Capital.
The Camero system will initially be targeted towards Fire & Rescue, Law Enforcement and Special Forces operatives. Its radar system uses ultra-wideband (UWB) technology to produce three-dimensional pictures of the space behind a wall from a distance of up to 20 meters. The pictures, which reportedly resemble those produced by ultrasound, are relatively high-resolution and are produced in real time.
“The company was born of urgent operational needs,” CEO Aharon Aharon told Ha’aretz. “When disaster victims must be rescued from a collapsed building or a fire, time is of the essence. Rescue forces often invest enormous resources and precious time in combing the rubble, or endanger their lives by entering the flames, even if it is not clear that there are any survivors behind the walls.”
Until now, other partial solutions were used, such as fiber optic cameras inserted through holes drilled in a wall, or certain sound amplification systems that highlight the noise in a certain room.
The Camero solution was born at the Jerusalem Global venture capital fund (JVG), when Amir Be’eri, a former defense establishment employee developed a way to emit UWB radio waves. Radio waves can be used to visualize an image, but the kinds of radio waves available did not provide high enough resolution to be useful and could not penetrate walls built of certain kinds of metals, including steel-enforced concrete walls. UWB was a new technology at the time, and it was necessary because ordinary radio waves do not provide high enough resolution to be useful. Yet radio waves are necessary because other types of waves do not pass through walls.
Camero has developed a certain kind of ultra radio wave that can be emitted to generate a high-definition image and also invented the technology that allows the enhanced wave to pass through virtually any wall, according to Aharon. Another problem with radio waves is that they do not function well around metal. However, Camero’s sophisticated software enables its technology to work even on steel-reinforced concrete walls.
Be’eri, with his defense background, recognized the potential of the new technology and recruited Aharon, a former senior executive at Zoran and Seabridge. Together, the two recruited seven experts in RF (radio frequency) technology, signal processing and three-dimensional imaging.
“We believe that the company’s strong technical leadership in multidisciplinary fields, including RF and signal and image processing, will provide us with a key competitive edge in the market,” said Aharon.
Aharon said an initial prototype of the device is expected to be ready in 18 months. He acknowledges that it will be in direct competition with a company called Time Domain, which is offering a similar product. But according Aharon, Camero’s technology is superior in several important respects. First, it can be used from a distance of 20 meters, whereas Time Domain’s product must be right next to the wall in question. Second, it gives a detailed picture of everything in the room, whereas Time Domain’s product locates objects, but gives no information about their shape or size
“Camero’s world-class founding team is developing a unique, life-saving system with huge market potential. The money raised will be used to complete research & development and launch marketing activities,” said Dr. Shlomo Kalish, Founding Partner in Jerusalem Global Ventures about the round of financing.
Motorola Ventures was also enthusiastic about Camero’s technology. Matthew Growney, the company’s managing director said that he believed Camero’s advanced 3D imaging technology and portability advantage will significantly improve critical detection and rescue operations of many public safety agencies around the world.
So the next time a miracle is needed, don’t look in the sky for Superman. Camero’s life-saving system just may put him out of business.