The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology (DHS S&T) Directorate has developed a new technology designed to track firefighters in scenarios where it is difficult to find exits of the burning building.
DHS S&T said Tuesday it worked with firefighters in Worcester, Massachusetts, to design the Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Tracking for Emergency Responders (POINTER).
POINTER allows emergency response teams to pinpoint firefighters in centimeters and navigate safe exit paths. A transmitter, a receiver and a laptop-based tracking station compose the POINTER system.
S&T has been working with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014 to develop POINTER as a portable, wearable location system.
The technology uses magnetoquasistatic fields to track firefighters in three dimensions. These fields can pass through most building materials, at a better rate than acoustic, GPS and radio-frequency signals.
“MQS fields are not blocked or reflected by the materials found in most buildings due to weak response of the materials to magnetic-dominant fields,” said Darmindra Arumugam, principal investigator and senior technologist at JPL.
NASA and DHS S&T will continue POINTER's development throughout the rest of the year, with planned simulations for warehouse, town house and row home scenarios.