Science & Technology

Laser beam helmets help Silicon Valley firefighters see through smoke

Menlo Park, USA, Jun 28 (EFE).- Silicon Valley’s cutting edge high-tech innovations, normally associated with computing and software, will also be used to help California’s firefighters, who will use helmets equipped with laser beams and thermal imaging technology to allow them to see through smoke and save lives faster.

“I think it’s definitely going to be a game-changer for the fire service,” Thomas Cuschieri, chief of Woodside Fire Protection District, told Efe of the hands-free device, called the C-Thru Navigator.

“Being able to walk into a dark, smoky environment hands-free with just something over your eyes where you can see ahead and make out the contents of a room, a person on the ground (…) that’s going to be the way forward.”

The C-Thru Navigator, created by San Francisco-based Qwake Technologies, outlines in green images what firefighters see in spaces filled with heavy smoke, and detects the hottest area in the burning building, as well as human bodies.

The device is made of a combination of a green laser beam that shoots out of the helmet to measure depth and a thermal imaging technology that measures the relative temperature of each body and shows the hottest spots to allow the quick detection of where the fire is.

The technology allows firefighters to act twice as fast, according to Menlo Park fire chief Harold Schapelhouman.

At a cost of $5,000 per device, Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park fire department invested about $200,000 earlier this month to equip his 40 firefighters with the navigator, which had been tested by experts for two years. EFE


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