Chest Sensor Produces Instant Floor Plans for Emergency Personnel

Researchers at MIT have found yet another use for Microsoft's Kinect sensor. They've stripped it down, tacked on a sophisticated laser rangefinder, added wireless functionality, and turned it into a wearable sensor that will automatically map the inside of a building as the wearer moves through it.

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The most obvious use of the technology is as a way for Google's mapping team to finally provide detailed schematics for every home in the country. But MIT sees it as more of a valuable tool for emergency responders. In a HAZMAT situation one person could act as a scout, exploring a structure for problems and denoting areas of concern using a manual trigger that lets them leave annotations.

The map of the building's interior is generated on the fly and sent to a remote laptop where it can be studied by other responders who will then know exactly where they need to go. The sensor rig also continually photographs the wearer's surroundings so there are additional visual cues that help others find their way around, but also helps the mapping software automatically recognize an area the wearer's been to before. If the technology ever becomes an actual product let's hope that MIT makes it available to the average consumer, as it also seems like the perfect tool for parent's who need to navigate the ever-changing layout of a teenager's dirty bedroom.

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Illustration for article titled Chest Sensor Produces Instant Floor Plans for Emergency Personnel

[MITnews via Ubergizmo]

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DISCUSSION

bennygesserit
Benny Gesserit

This is cool but here's a thought:

A helmet a person in the building puts on during a fire. It uses heat and vision sensors to build an on-the-fly, safe exit from the floor/building. The heat sensors warn when a closed door is too hot to considering opening and if the walls are starting to warm indicating the fire could be moving through them. Add speakers near the ears to direct the person audibly (left here, open door in 3 ft, multiple small objects on floor step carefully, avoid door ahead), maybe an air scrubber to buy the person a few minutes and eye shields to help see a little better.

I read, now and then, the fire victim was close to a window/door/stairwell and collapsed before they got to it or saw it, maybe tech can buy them that extra few feet or minute to get there.