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Public safety communications research


A phone mounted on a metal arm shows a thermal image of several people standing in demo area.
Credit: S. Trunnell/Corner Alliance

Sensing through the smoke — in a dangerous environment with low visibility, firefighters can’t always rely on their eyes alone. That’s where haptic feedback comes in, a technology that leverages sensory cues (like a cellphone’s vibration) to communicate with its users. This could be the next frontier in situational awareness for first responders, so NIST is on an expedition to find out more.

Recently, NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division put haptic solutions to the test as part of the final phase in our Haptic Interfaces for Public Safety Challenge. Our team used the thermal tick camera shown above to keep track of what was going on in the demo area, which was otherwise filled with smoke and not visible.

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