Navigation Links
Wireless 'breadcrumbs' that wont become toast when baked...or soggy when hosed

When Hansel and Gretel ventured into the forest, they left a trail of breadcrumbs to find their way home. In today's world, cellular phones, Global Positioning System (GPS), WiFi, and Bluetooth are the digital signals that connect us to friends, family, and colleagues while helping us find our location and map our routes.

Yet, despite the ubiquity of such devices, with few exceptions, today's firefighters still rely on 20th-century radios, whose outdated analog signals have trouble penetrating debris and concrete. When a firefighter heroically plunges into a smoke-filled building, tunnel, or forest, a UHF radio or, for that matter, even a GPS satellite signal won't follow. The firefighter vanishes from the map.

For a first responder, radio silence can be lethal.

That's why the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is combining two previously developed heatproof and waterproof wireless monitors with a newly developed technology. Working together, the three technologies could lead to a life-saving solution.

One device, the Geospatial Location Accountability and Navigation System for Emergency Responders (GLANSER), crams a microwave radio, a lightweight battery, and a suite of navigation devices into a tracking device the size of a paperback book. Back at the fire truck, GLANSER's signals are received and transmitted by a small, USB-powered base station plugged into a laptop. As firefighters move from room to room and floor to floor, the laptop display animates their every step.

A second device, the Physiological Health Assessment System for Emergency Responders (PHASER), can monitor a firefighter's body temperature, blood pressure, and pulse, relaying these vitals back to the base station. If a firefighter falls or faints, fellow firefighters can race in, quickly find him, and bring him to safety, guided by GLANSER.

Like the first cordless phones, GLANSER and PHASER transmit at 900 MHza frequency that can penetrate walls, given a decent-sized transmitter. But because of their portable size, the transmitters are extremely modest. Their signals could be stopped by a wall, orin a wildfireby a wall of trees, unless relayed by routers. That presents an infernal challenge.

What's needed is a self-powered router that can take the heat.

S&T is developing a tiny throwaway router, measuring one inch square by inch thick, that's waterproof and heat-resistant up to 500 F. The Wireless Intelligent Sensor Platform for Emergency Responders, or WISPER, contains a two-way digital radio, antenna, and 3-volt lithium cell.

Here's how it works: Each firefighter enters a burning building with five routers loaded into a belt-mounted waterproof canister. If a firefighter steps behind concrete or beyond radio range, the base station orders his canister to drop a "breadcrumb." The dropped routers arrange themselves into a network. If a router accidentally gets kicked down a stairwell or firehosed under a couch, the WISPER network will automatically reconfigure.

To an embattled firefighter, a handful of these smart "breadcrumbs" could spell the difference between life and death.

To extract the most life from the router's tiny battery, WISPER's designers turned to a simple, low-power communications protocol, ZigBee. ZigBee is tortoise-slow by design; it trades speed for battery life, telegraphing no more than 100 kilobits per second (kbps)a rate that's more than 99 percent slower than WiFi.

"Throw in smoke, firehose mist, stairwells, and walls, and you're down to maybe 10 kbps. But that's fast enough to tell an incident commander the whereabouts (via GLANSER) and health (via PHASER) of every firefighter in the blaze," explains Jalal Mapar, WISPER's project manager in S&T's Infrastructure Protection and Disaster Management Division. "We're not streaming video that needs a lot of bandwidth, just vital signs and coordinates."

WISPER's router, dispenser, and tiny USB base station were developed by Oceanit Laboratories, Inc., of Honolulu, and the University of Virginia's Department of Computer Science under an S&T Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

In March 2011, Oceanit and UVA demonstrated WISPER for S&T at a FEMA office in Arlington, Virginia. Simulating a squad of firefighters, three router-toting researchers fanned out, dodging around corners, stepping down stairwells. In test after test, their signals stayed strong, even at a range of 150 feet.

Now that the SBIR project is proven to be a surefire success, S&T hopes a maker will step forward to produce the routers in volume. Once a commercial entity begins production, S&T's Test & Evaluation and Standards Office will evaluate a sample product to ensure that it meets the stated performance criteria and for consistency. S&T will also set industry standards so that other manufacturers will have a set of specifications for design and performance.

"We've demonstrated that it works," says Mapar. "Now we just need a private-sector partner to add fuel to the fire."


Contact: John Verrico
US Department of Homeland Security - Science and Technology

Related biology technology :

1. First self-powered device with wireless data transmission
2. Wireless Health 2010 Explores the Roles of Wireless Technologies in Clinical Services
3. Gary and Mary West Foundation Grants $20 Million to Advance Engineering Efforts Within the West Wireless Heath Institute
4. IGEN Networks signs Exclusive Agreement with Machlink, for wireless technology with high-speed Internet, phone and data applications
5. Startup at UCLA tech incubator to begin clinical trials for wireless body-monitoring system
6. Diabetics: 3tailer Partners with MyGlucoHealth on World's 1st Blood Glucose Meter with Wireless Bluetooth for Diabetes
7. Reportlinker Adds High-Tech Patient Monitoring Systems Markets (Remote and Wireless Systems, Data Processing, EMR Data Transfer) Report
8. Airo Wireless Announces the Release of the Intrinsically Safe A25is Cell Phone/PDA
9. San Diego Wireless Heavyweight Leap Wireless Supports New Start-up Incubator
10. Spinning carbon nanotubes spawns new wireless applications
11. Advanced Technologies and Wireless Telecommunications Enhance Care and Medical Training at the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Wireless 'breadcrumbs' that wont become toast when baked...or soggy when hosed
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... the year and one of the premier annual events for pharmaceutical manufacturing: 2015 ... 8–11 November 2015, where ISPE hosted the largest number of attendees in more ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical ... today announced that the company has set a new quarterly earnings ... on quarter growth posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of ... Mexico , with the establishment of an ... --> United Kingdom and Mexico ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... This fall, global software solutions leader SAP and AdVenture Capital brought together ... their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness in their schools. , Now, the ... title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid trip to Super Bowl 50, and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Massachusetts , November 24, 2015 SHPG ... will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare ... Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). ... , Chief Financial Officer, will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 ... , NY on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:11/18/2015)... , November 18, 2015 ... has published a new market report titled  Gesture Recognition ... and Forecast, 2015 - 2021. According to the report, the global ... and is anticipated to reach US$29.1 bn by 2021, ... North America dominated the ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... November 17, 2015 Paris ... 2015.  --> Paris , qui ... DERMALOG, le leader de l,innovation biométrique, a inventé ... passeports et empreintes sur la même surface de balayage. ... et l,autre pour les empreintes digitales. Désormais, un seul ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... SOUTH EASTON, Mass. , Nov. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... "Company"), a leader in the development and sale of ... to the worldwide life sciences industry, today announced it ... closing of its $5 million Private Placement (the "Offering"), ... Offering to $4,025,000.  One or more additional closings are ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):