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360-Degree Video in Fire Research

Photo of an enclosure that allows a spherical camera to be placed inside of a fire.

Some of the most useful and compelling information obtained during a fire experiment comes from visual observations. However, the extreme environmental conditions present in a fire necessitate limited access during experiments. Current solutions to collect visual data from fires have largely been limited to two-dimensions, often with a narrow field of view and for limited periods of time; e.g. until the camera is destroyed. High-resolution omnidirectional cameras are rapidly getting smaller, better and cheaper and the 360-degree images and video they capture provide a more immersive viewing experience. However, to use such cameras in a fire, two problems must be solved: how to keep the camera cool and how to protect the camera sensors from the intense thermal radiation given off by a fire.

In a 2018 Engineering Laboratory Exploratory Project, NIST researchers designed, fabricated and tested a transparent, water-cooled enclosure to house various commercial 360-degree cameras to record video from inside a fully-developed fire (Download PROJECT SLIDES).

Leveraging the unique footage provided by these camera systems, NIST researchers are developing WebXR software tools that allow the user to augment the 360-degree video with data measured during an experiment. The video provides spatial and temporal context for what is happening as a fire grows and decays that allows the viewer to more rapidly understand the data. An overview of the work is provided in the video below. Click here for an example of a data-augmented 360-degree fire video (must use WebXR enabled browser).

Related Publications

On the development of a transparent enclosure for 360° video
On the Cooling of a 360º Video Camera to Observe Fire Dynamics In Situ

360° Video Gallery (Click and Drag Cursor in Video to Change Orientation)

New 360-degree videos will be posted below as they become available.


Created October 3, 2018, Updated March 22, 2021