Scientists discover genuine use for AR vision by giving firefighters thermal vision

profitexIt’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.”

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.

Features

Exclusive: The Surface Hub 2S will revolutionize work. Here’s how it was made

Exclusive interviews with the designers, futurists, and visionaries behind the Surface Hub 2 paint a dramatic picture of how Microsoft thinks collaboration will change your office.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Notre Dame fire: How drones and a robot called Colossus helped limit the damage

The fire that devastated the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday shocked many around the world. In a bid to prevent even worse damage to the structure, Paris firefighters opted to deploy drones and a robot called Colossus.
Smart Home

Allergies acting up? The best air purifiers on the market can offer relief

Poor indoor air quality can cause an array of health issues over time. Luckily, these air purifiers can easily rid your home or office of unwanted allergens and contaminants to help you breathe easier when you're indoors.
Smart Home

I have seen the future, and it’s full of salad-making robots

Think that robots bussing tables, tossing salads and baking bread is a futuristic concept? It's actually not as far away as you might think. Robots took center stage at a food robotics summit in San Francisco this week, where they showed…
Emerging Tech

NASA is building an inflatable space robot named King Louie

NASA is funding an inflatable robot called King Louie which could travel to the stars in deflated form and then be blown up when and where required. Here is why that's so exciting.
Emerging Tech

Meet the gene-edited bacteria that could make cannabis plants obsolete

Ever wanted to brew cannabis like you brew craft beer? At UC Berkeley, biologists have managed to engineer brewer’s yeast so that it produces the main cannabinoids found in marijuana.
Emerging Tech

U.S. police are testing out Batman-style bola guns to catch criminals

U.S. police are taking a page out of Batman’s playbook with a new grappling hook gun, called the BolaWrap, which fires out a kevlar cord able to tie up assailants in the blink of an eye.
Emerging Tech

U.S., U.K. embrace autonomous robot spy subs that can stay at sea for months

Unmanned, autonomous robot spy submarines that are able to stay at sea for months at a time may be coming to both the United States and its ally across the pond, the U.K. Here's what we know so far.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Facebook data security, Ubisoft helps Notre Dame, and more

Join DT Live as we discuss Facebook security issues, Ubisoft's plan to help rebuild Notre Dame, and more. We are also joined by Emily Teteut of Snap the Gap, Jennifer Sendrow of New York Public Radio, and DJ and producer Zeke Thomas.
Emerging Tech

Planet-hunting satellite discovers its first Earth-sized planet

NASA's planet hunting satellite, TESS, has made a new discovery. Last month the satellite discovered its first exoplanet. And now it has achieved another milestone, locating its first Earth-sized planet and a larger sibling planet.
Emerging Tech

Resupply mission carries 7,600 pounds of scientific equipment to ISS

The Cygnus spacecraft has rendezvoused with the International Space Station as part of a months-long resupply mission. The craft will remain docked until July 23, while the crew take in the 7,600 pounds of research equipment it carried.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers surprised to find deep lakes of methane on Titan

In the two years since the Cassini probe burned up in Saturn's rings, data from its recordings is still being analyzed. The latest research has shown that Saturn's largest moon, Titan, hosts deep liquid lakes of methane on its surface.
Emerging Tech

Happy birthday, Hubble! Telescope celebrates with image of Southern Crab Nebula

In 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit, where it has remained for nearly three decades collecting information about deep space. To celebrate its birthday, Hubble imaged the beautiful Southern Crab Nebula.