App SnapsDecember 1, 2006 By: Melanie Martella, Sensors Sensors
Monitoring Within and Without
Firefighters and HazMat workers have a very tough job. They're frequently in heavy gear, in unfriendly atmospheres, and working hard. Unfortunately, this combination of equipment, environment, and job stress means that frequently they're operating at the limits of human endurance. VivoMetrics Inc. (www.vivometrics.com) developed the LifeShirt, a real-time physiologic monitoring system to keep tabs on how they're faring while they're on the job. The system's chest strap monitors breathing, heart rate, activity, posture, and skin temperature continuously.
In a recent development, VivoMetrics Inc. has teamed up with RAE Systems (www.raesystems.com manufacturer of safety and security sensor networks, to combine VivoMetrics' LifeShirt 300 with RAE Systems' AreaRAE wireless network system that detects hazardous gases and radiation. With this combined system, data from the LifeShirt are transmitted in real time via a RAELink2 wireless modem to a remote command center. ProRAE Remote PC-based software then continuously displays both sensor and physiological data, allowing the commanders to make informed decisions about their crews.
Andrew Behar, president of VivoMetrics Government Services, says, "The LifeShirt 300 allows field commanders to assist firefighters while they are in the field and remove them from potentially harmful situations."
THE CHALLENGE Monitor vital signs and detect environmental hazards
Beacons on the Battlefield
It's a fact that, in the chaos of the battlefield (and especially in confused urban warfare situations), people die from so-called "friendly fire." Adapting a MEMS technology developed for use in gas sensors, ICx Ion Optics has created IR emitters tuned to night-vision wavelengths. These devices selectively emit IR length at specific wavelengths and can operate as Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) markers, visible to advanced imaging equipment but invisible to the naked eye or to the first-generation night-vision gear used by the enemy. The MarkIR uses a photonic crystal structure built into a miniature silicon chip to determine the precise emission wavelength. These tiny, power-efficient devices are suited to battery operation; alternatively, they can act as individual emitters for short to medium ranges (30–50 m) or configured into arrays for long-range (>8 km) detection.
THE CHALLENGE Identify friendlies in firefights
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