I-Balling the enemy

14 November 2008

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Troops will be able to get an eye on the enemy with the development of new I-Ball technology. The concept was born from a proposal submitted to the Ministry of Defence’s Competition of Ideas in 2007 and is being developed by Edinburgh-based company, Dreampact Ltd.

Artistic image of the future I-Ball technology - the concept was born from a proposal submitted to the Ministry of Defence’s Competition of Ideas in 2007 and is being developed by Edinburgh-based company, Dreampact Ltd.

If successful the I-Ball could provide a tool for troops to see into areas of the battlefield before they have to risk their lives. It is a highly-portable, wireless, projectile camera that provides 360-degree video coverage even in flight after being thrown. This gives soldiers a steady picture and easy to see high-value, high-quality images in realtime video.

The ball could be fired from a grenade launcher or thrown into a room to give troops in theatre vital information of who – or what – is on the ground.

Director of the Defence Technology and Innovation Centre, Professor Andrew Baird, said:

“The technology behind I-Ball is an exciting new development that has very significant potential across a range of military equipment and operational scenarios, particularly in difficult urban operations.

“The initial development of I-Ball has been successful and shows great promise and we are considering what further development is possible.”

Dreampact has developed a new approach to image stabilisation that fully developed could have a wide range of applications across defence – from tanks to micro unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) as the I-Ball would be versatile enough to operate in temperatures below -32ºC and over 44ºC.

The company held a demonstration day to show off the potential capabilities of the new technology to MOD officials at the Defence Technology and Innovation Centre, Shrivenham, on 13 November.

Paul Thompson, from Dreampact Ltd, said:

“We are delighted that our idea was taken up by the Ministry of Defence’s Competition of Ideas – we could not have developed it without that assistance. Although it is in its early stages, we are very excited about the technology’s potential to help our troops to be better prepared for battle.

“We have overcome some significant technological challenges in developing the I-Ball technology and it’s fantastic that the MoD is working with a small company like us to help develop its future capabilities in battlefield technology.”

Building on the successful Competition of Ideas initiative in 2007, the MOD opened the Centre for Defence Enterprise in May 2008 as the centre where innovators, entrepreneurs, academics, plus small, medium or large businesses can discuss ideas that could contribute to any aspect of the UK’s military capability.

Head of the Centre for Defence Enterprise, Dr Helen Almey said:

“Working with Dreampact Ltd is a very good example of what we are striving to achieve at the Centre for Defence Enterprise. We particularly want to work with Small and Medium size Enterprises, talented individuals and academia to ensure that we are able to equip the armed forces of the future.

“Anyone can submit a proposal to us, via our website at http://www.science.mod.uk/, and we can give feedback on proposals within a couple of weeks. The Centre for Defence Enterprise is the Ministry of Defence’s way of showing a practical commitment to innovation, to improve the capabilities of the armed forces and to UK Industry.”


Photograph: Defence News Imagery.

Image 1: (Larger size) Artistic image of the future I-Ball technology - the concept was born from a proposal submitted to the Ministry of Defence’s Competition of Ideas in 2007 and is being developed by Edinburgh-based company, Dreampact Ltd.

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