Firefighting is dangerous enough without your two-way radio failing behind collapsed walls or in smoke-filled buildings. That's why the DoD has developed the a new disposable router system, dubbed WISPER, that may one day replace traditional radios.

Designed on the ZiggBee protocol, each WISPER (Wireless Intelligent Sensor Platform for Emergency Responders) unit consists of a single, inch-square waterproof and heat-resistant router containing an integrated two-way digital radio, antenna, and 3-volt power source. Developed by Oceanit Laboratories and the University of Virginia, WISPER routers are designed to be dropped as position markers, like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs, from waterproof dispenser as firefighters move through a building. These routers together form a mesh network that automatically reconfigures itself if a router is moved or destroyed, "if a WISPER note is damaged, the network reheals or repairs itself in real-time to maintain communication," one Oceanit representative revealed.

But the WISPER does more than just double as a walkie-talkie. This system also incorporates two other cutting-edge systems: the Physiological Health Assessment System for Emergency Responders (PHASER), which monitors body temperature, blood pressure, and pulse, alerting fellow firefighters to a comrade in danger, and the Geospatial Location Accountability and Navigation System for Emergency Responders (GLANSER) system that acts as an integrated radio/battery/navigation device. [via FastCoDesign]