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the Qwake CTHRU AR Helmet
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Augmented Reality helmet from Qwake can help firefighters save lives

Using advanced thermal imaging and computer vision, helmet greatly increases visibility and according to Qwake Tech, it makes firefighters 5x faster

Firefighters have one of the riskiest jobs in the world – literally walking into flames and rescuing lives. While technology isn’t entirely alien to the profession, thermal imaging tech generally used by firefighters isn’t really suited for a critical situation like a live fire. To solve this very problem, and in turn, greatly increase firefighting efficiency, Qwake Tech has combined concepts in the fields of computer vision, augmented reality and thermal imaging to come up with the C-THRU system.

As the name suggests, C-THRU works as a transparent overlay on the firefighter’s’ helmet. It overlays the information in real time, allowing firefighters to move five times faster, according to Qwake Tech. The features of the helmet are:

  • Smart Edge Detection
  • Hot Spot ID
  • Fire Event Recording
  • Live Streaming

Apart from these, Qwake is also developing object recognition and flow path tracking into the device.

The AR helmet also has recording and streaming capabilities
The AR helmet also has recording and streaming capabilities

The Internals

The C-Thru system works on a very compact engine. Sized like a deck of cards, the system is powered by NVIDIA Tegra mobile processors and it works on proprietary machine learning algorithms. Apart from the imaging, it also uses auxiliary sensors for the air, toxicity, biometrics to create an overall comprehensive awareness for the firefighter.

The overlay can be very helpful in a critical situation
The overlay can be very helpful in a critical situation

One big problem that this device overcomes is firefighters having to look repeatedly at the thermal imaging screen on previous devices. That need would be taxing on the firefighter in a critical situation and with this helmet, there is no need to process the data separately as it is overlayed on your existing line of sight. The edge detection algorithm essentially keeps information at a minimum that is necessary and sufficient for the firefighters to navigate quickly.

There are three visual modes in the helmet:

  • Smart Edge: Only the edges of the objects around you are visible.
  • Hot Spot ID: Along with the edges, high-temperature areas are visible in red.
  • Thermal Edge: Regular thermal vision with the edges visible.
From Left to Right: Smart Edge, Heat, Thermal Edge
From Left to Right: Smart Edge, Hot Spot ID, Thermal Edge

The platform also accounts for progress in another technology areas in rescue technology. It has compatibility for expansion with drone applications, robotic applications and handheld devices.

The team has actual firefighters on board the advisory board and aims to keep refining the technology further with advanced capabilities. This looks like a promising way in which Augmented reality is about to make a real difference real soon.

Arnab Mukherjee

Arnab Mukherjee

A former tech-support desk jockey, you can find this individual delving deep into all things tech, fiction and food. Calling his sense of humour merely terrible would be a much better joke than what he usually makes.