In Portugal, a total of 2,000 firefighters were recently called in to tackle the worst forest fire the country has ever seen, which cost the lives of 64 people, 47 of them in a single area. Thick smoke and raging heat hampered the fire team in their efforts to bring the inferno under control and lead the victims to safety. However, Augmented Reality may now be able to provide a solution to the problems of visibility they encountered during this dramatic incident. Sam Cossman, a 'volcano diver' who frequently has to cope with searing heat and clouds of smoke during his extreme expeditions, is the co-founder of a startup called Qwake Tech. He and his colleagues have been working with fire service personnel to develop a headset designed enable firefighters to find their way around through smoke and flames. Originally conceived with the needs of vulcanologists in mind, the full set of equipment comprises a thermal camera; air, toxicity and biometrics sensors; and an AR system which recreates and displays an outline picture of the surrounding objects and contours that are hidden by the conflagration. This futuristic headset and its linked equipment promise to enable fire and rescue personnel to get in and out of blazing buildings faster, with the likelihood of saving more lives. And that has to be one of the hottest ideas for applying AR techniques that we've seen.
By Laura Frémy