Panasonic’s Toughbook tablet is helping rescue crews save lives in Nepal

With the death toll climbing to more than 7,800 people, the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that hit Nepal has left nothing short of disaster in its wake. Unfortunately, the death toll might continue to rise, as more than 400 people are still believed to be missing. Panasonic hopes to dwindle that number with its Toughbook Windows tablet and FINDER technology.

Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) is a technology developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Rescue crews are using the tech on Panasonic tablets in the hopes of finding people buried as deep as 30 feet in crushed materials, hidden behind 20 feet of solid concrete, and from a distance of 100 feet in wide open spaces. FINDER is not only equipped with the ability to provide the approximate location of trapped individuals within five feet, but it also provides rescuers with confirmation of a heartbeat.

In order to make use of the technology, a custom version of the Panasonic Toughbook H2 Windows tablet is being used. Given away by the name, the Toughbook H2’s claims to fame are its IP65 and MIL-STD-810G certifications, which allow the tablet PC to withstand a variety of extreme outdoor conditions.

FINDER has already been put to good use in Nepal, where four men who were buried underneath several feet of debris for several days in the village of Chautara were found by rescue crews using the technology. More specifically, two prototypes are currently deployed in the country, with rescuers hoping they can find even more people with them.

FINDER tech was demonstrated on May 7, in London. S&T and JPL will make the device available for commercial enterprise in the hopes of equipping as many search and rescue teams around the world with it as possible. No pricing or specific time frame was given for the rescue tablet’s release.