Firefighters typically have less than six minutes to enter a building and rescue people while carrying heavy equipment and battling thick smoke.

A new helmet concept - the ‘C-Thru: Smoke Diving Helmet’ - uses augmented reality to enable firefighters to see through smoke, making it easier and quicker for them to search for victims.

Created by product designer Omer Haciomeroglu and sponsored by the Umea Fire Brigade in Sweden, the helmet uses augmented reality and cloud computing to project a vision of the environment onto the inside of the helmet. This type of technology is currently being used by the US Air Force.

Credit: Omer Haciomeroglu

The helmet includes an optic-thermal camera, head-mounted projectors, selective-audio input and wireless audio output to create the virtual panorama.

As well as providing an accurate way for firefighters to see and move through smoke, Haciomeroglu says factors such as damage protection communication and usability were also important when designing the helmet.

 “It was a challenge to put protective inner hood, full face gas mask, heat-insulated helmet, the outer hood, the thermal imaging device and the audio communication device into one package,” he explained.

Currently the lead firefighter, who is based outside, creates a map based on verbal descriptions of the scene from his colleagues inside a building.

With the C-Thru helmet, data received from the camera is sent wirelessly to a handheld device used by the leading firefighter, where it is collected and analysed before being sent back wirelessly to the firefighters.

The information is projected onto the inside of the helmet, depicting a wire-frame overlay of the environment which adjusts in real-time as the firefighter moves, enabling him or her to see an accurate vision of the environment.

Credit: Omer Haciomeroglu

The helmet also includes noise-cancelling technology, pre-set to certain frequencies to enhance the sound made by any victims as well as improving communication between firefighters.

Using C-Thru firefighters can walk or run (rather than crawl) towards any victims, keep track of each other and also keep an eye on important information such as oxygen level and visibility, which is also projected onto the inside of the helmet.

“Smoke divers can get ready within seconds, keep track of each other, see what is going on around them and get vital information simultaneously.” according to Haciomeroglu.

At the moment the C-Thru is only a concept, but according to Inventor Spot it is being tested at the Umea Fire Department.


Picture Credit: Omer Haciomeroglu main picture has been cropped.