Scientists discover genuine use for AR vision by giving firefighters


courtesy digitaltrends

It’s hard to discredit the genuine bravery of firefighters. After all, their  job regularly requires them to run into burning buildings and ensure that as  little damage as possible – to the building or anyone inside – occurs. It’s a  career that doesn’t just inspire bravery but demands it – consider the number of  times firefighters walk into a situation essentially blind, with no idea of  what’s awaiting them on the other side of the door.

To give them a little extra vision, scientists have come up with a way that  might remove some of those particularly dangerous unknowables.

Researchers at the University of Vienna in Austria have created something  called ProFiTex, which uses information collected from specially-modified  firefighter helmets to build a virtual map of any environment. This will allow  firefighting crews to have a better idea of just what’s around the corner (both  literally and metaphorically) in each new situation.

In-helmet heat sensors can monitor the temperature around a firefighter,  while a helmet-mounted camera can feed images of the environment back to those  outside of the fire so correspondents can weigh in on any potential decisions  via radiolink. The system can also provide additional information displayed  inside the helmet, says ProFiTex lead researcher Hannes Kaufmann.

“A [physical environment] can be invisible for the firefighter [as the result  of darkness or smoke], so we give him a model which is visible, and we enhance  it with thermal data,” Kaufmann told New Scientist, who said that the system  can “basically reproduce the real environment virtually” if necessary. “If a  room wall [appears on the display as] dark red from the outside, then it’s  dangerous inside.”

Firemen at work

Firemen at work (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kaufmann presented a paper on ProFiTex at last March’s Augmented Human  conference in Stuttgart, Germany, and he and his team already have ideas on how  to improve the system to make it even more useful for firefighters. The team  currently plans to research just how much additional information can be  displayed for firefighters in the actual environments before it becomes either  overwhelming or distracting. Additionally, they want to look into how infrared  lasers could be used to cut through smoke-filled rooms and offer more detailed  information on even the most densely smoke-filled environments.

Undoubtedly, the idea of rolling out such technology on a wide scale would be  an expensive proposition. However, there’s no denying that the potential to  improve the chances of success for firefighters with this kind of information is  worth it.

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This entry was posted on June 21, 2013 by in HIGH TECH and tagged , , , , , , , .

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