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Firefighter mask offers hands-free thermal imaging

Scott Safety's "industry first" could replace handheld thermal cameras.
Nick Summers, @nisummers
April 20, 2016
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When firefighters tackle a dangerous blaze, thermal imaging can be their greatest ally. It's usually integrated in a small handheld camera, helping team members to quickly locate civilians, peak through walls and identify safe passageways. Tyco's Scott Safety has now developed a face mask which includes an integrated thermal camera and display, called "Scott Sight." A small image is shown inside the mask -- similar to how Google Glass' would appear in your peripheral vision -- at nine frames per second, for up to four hours. The user can also switch between four different interfaces, as well as ambient and max temperature settings.

The combination should allow firefighters to keep their hands free. Whether they're guiding people to safety, or using specialized equipment, Scott Sight should help firefighters to be more effective and tackle blazes faster. The only downside is that each crew member will need their own mask to see the world through thermal vision -- a handheld camera, in comparison, can be easily viewed and shared between multiple people.

Nevertheless, Scott Sight feels like a logical step forward. It sets the foundation for a more advanced overlay, similar to Microsoft's HoloLens, which firefighters could enable on the fly. Such a system would remove the need to constantly peer at a tiny screen, keeping the wearer's gaze front and center -- a behavior that's paramount in a fire-fuelled situation, where potential dangers could present themselves at any moment.

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