You have to admire firefighters. The brave men and women who risk their lives in order to save yours. Being a highly technical skill, firefighting requires years of training. Time and distance are factors that will determine how many lives can be saved in the event of an emergency. A response to this issue is on the horizon and it involves Google’s futuristic Glass technology.
Firefighter Patrick Jackson developed an app for Google Glass, which feeds important details directly into the frames of firefighters during the outbreak of a crisis.
By pouring information into Glass, the app will save firefighters from having to stop whatever it is they’re doing in order to grab the nearest communication device. Jackson hopes to install more useful data in future versions, including blueprints on specific buildings, potential hazards that will be encountered, and contact information for the owners of the habitat.
“I’ll hear a little notification and can look up into the top corner of my vision and see a map of where it is. I see the location of the incident and what type of call it is,” Jackson said, when describing the app.
Glass will even video record the incident and store the footage for investigation into the causes of fires. It can’t be supported by on-the-ground firefighters, so only external personnel will make use of it for now.
With innovations from people like Jackson, the images of an Orwellian dystopia often associated with Glass can be downplayed. Google had struggled back in April of last year with Glass’ public image, despite releasing it to a limited group of developers.
The idea that Glass can record sound and video did not help in calming the reasonable fears of an imminent police state. Etiquette-themed questions were raised, especially regarding the use of the head-mounted computer in public places.
Jackson, a self-taught programmer, came up with the idea of a firefighting app when he witnessed a group of skydivers demonstrating Glass at the Google developers conference in 2012. After seeing the skydivers’ video of a man diving out of a blimp and riding a bike into the conference, Jackson realized Glass could be used to help firefighters.’
In order to have obtained Google Glass, Jackson submitted his idea to the IfIHadGlass competition. Money was raised to cover the price of the hardware through a campaign via Indiegogo. He received the device in September 2013.
Firefighting departments aren’t usually tech savvy because of financial handicaps. Jackson’s Rocky Mount Fire Department only just recently installed iPads into their fire trucks. They’re considered cost-effective and easier to carry around than laptops.
Across the USA, other fire departments have expressed interest in Jackson’s app. One unit is considering a link between Glass and a thermal imaging camera that can be customized to work with oxygen masks. Partial vision through smoke and darkness can be achieved this way.