One of the main reasons for deaths among firefighters is that they often get disoriented due to the pandemonium around them, even though they are well trained for getting into burning buildings. According to Hateya, the finalist for the Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2013 from Belgium, this problem can be prevented with the help of technology. They developed a system for firefighters to help them escape burning building. The helmet features augmented reality glasses. Besides, this system includes a small computer and sensors located inside the clothing of the firefighters, keeping track of their location. All the firefighter needs to do is follow the arrows on the glasses to find his way out.
Hateya calls this system “ComeBack” and it works on its own, all you need to do is click the inbuilt button in the clothing. The GPS is not likely to get exact location data as it is being used indoors. As a result, this system measures the steps of a firefighter that he takes inside the burning building and there is a compass for determining the route taken by somebody else inside a building. The team argues that this approach is very accurate; however, they are looking for alternatives for making an even more precise positioning.
Hateya added an additional component to their ComeBack unit to make it even more capable. They created a mesh network between the various devices of the ComeBack system when multiple firefighters are working inside a building. Besides, it comes with a ‘back office’ application used by the supervisor working outside of the burning building. This helps the supervisor to get full picture of the situation and essential information such as the location of each crew member. At present, this system is using Wi-Fi; however, Hateya would be using more conventional radio technology that has a wider range in their next iteration.
There are four students of Haute Ecole De La Ville De Liège behind this project who are testing it with various fire companies in Belgium. These students are planning to use more two-way communications systems in their next version of ComeBack. This will allow to the supervisor to plan additional route of a building if the original gets blocked. Besides, the video feed will give a better idea of the present situation inside. To those who are outside the building.