Up, up, and away

C-Cubed Security releases FlySwat balloon-based cellular camera system
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.--Using largely off-the-shelf products and a little bit of proprietary know-how, five-person shop cCubed Security, based here, has developed a balloon-based aerial camera that transmits its images via cellular communication. Called FlySwat, the product is being actively pitched to law-enforcement agencies and cCubed is looking for fellow integrators to act as dealers.

"We were talking to a lot of SWAT team officers," said Jon Sharpe, cCubed managing partner. "They told us that one of the things they most need is quick, portable surveillance systems. So we scratched our heads and looked at unmanned robot type things--and we're looking at that for the future, too--but we thought if they have a view from the air, that would assist them a lot, especially if it's a smaller department that doesn't have helicopters."

FlySwat consists of two cameras, one an eight megapixel fixed camera, the other a standard PTZ with 12x optical zoom. While operators watch live streaming video at 640 x 480 resolution, they can then grab a high-resolution fixed image of an area of interest that will download without interrupting the live stream. The proprietary circuit cCubed developed allows for the cellular remote control.

The entire system, balloon, tether, and all, fits in the back of a Crowne Victoria, Sharpe noted (that's what the cops use in his part of the country). A future iteration will involve a thermal camera: "Law enforcement would like that for search and rescue," Sharpe said.

Sharpe, who runs the company with brother Jeffery, comes into the security field with a cellular background, having founded Lormar Logic, a company that developed technology allowing deaf people to use cell phones. Before that, Jon was a nuclear engineer.

"I haven't done nuclear work for a while," he said. "I enjoy working with cellular technology a lot better."