For firefighters, one of the scariest aspects of entering a burning building is that it can be nearly impossible to see anything due to the heavy smoke. That’s why firefighters often crawl along the ground where the smoke isn’t as thick—although this hinders the ability to put out a fire or rescue victims.
To help firefighters navigate through smoke, entrepreneur Sam Cossman and his colleagues at Qwake developed a heads up display that projects data from a thermal camera right in front of a firefighter’s face. Dubbed the C-THRU, the heads up display features a transparent piece of glass that sits inside a firefighter’s mask, right in front of one eye.
Outside the mask is a thermal camera that delivers a live feed to the device’s brain, which is a special form of artificial intelligence that detects the edges of shapes in the camera’s view and outlines them in neon green. This allows the firefighters to see the green silhouettes of the objects in front of them, despite the heavy smoke.
Cossman came up with the idea for C-THRU while exploring active volcanic craters, an activity in which he found himself essentially walking blindly through the smoke and steam.
Thus far, several fire departments have tested C-THRU in real-world scenarios. The response has been extremely positive, with the Boston Fire Department chief saying C-THRU “could literally change the game for us.”
Although a release date has yet to be announced for the augmented reality device, we can expect to receive more details on it by “early 2021.”