Wednesday, 12th May 2021
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IoT-enabled firefighter helmet has AR 'superpowers'

Rackspace Technology has worked with Qwake Technologies, a provider of revolutionary visual communication technology for firefighters, to accelerate Qwake’s cloud native approach.

The company’s product allows firefighters to more effectively navigate and communicate in low visibility environments through its local and connected platform which leverages the use of an Internet of Things (IoT) architecture. In addition, Qwake secured a government contract with DHS to commercialize the C-THRU Visual Communication integrated hardware and software solution.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), fires claim over 180,000 lives each year. The long-term impacts of fires also include property damage, lost productivity, and disruption to the environment. To help minimize danger and damage, Qwake Technologies set out to develop the world’s first IoT-enabled, wearable solution, to support the C-THRU breakthrough Visual Communication technology.

"Most of the technologies introduced to the fire service only incrementally improve what we already do. C-THRU is one of the first technologies that could literally change the game for us by giving our crew the ability to navigate significantly faster while visually communicating over a shared operating picture and providing a tremendous impact in our performance and ability to save lives and property, said Chief Marty McCormack Boston Fire Department. “Firefighters are understandably practical when it comes to new tools and our members were very impressed with the technology as our guys immediately saw the value in being able to navigate, communicate and coordinate visually. Bottom line, C-THRU will help our crews get the job done safer, faster and with less resources so it is a clear no brainer for us."

Qwake piloted the C-THRU Visual Communication with the Boston Fire Department, Menlo Park Fire Department, and several other forward leading fire departments.

The augmented reality (AR), helmet-worn device includes cellular and WiFi connected technology that helps firefighters navigate and maintain awareness of their surroundings. Data is transmitted to a tablet application that provides the incident commander real-time video feeds and accountability tools to coordinate their efforts. Finally, a cloud archive provides real-time incident analytics, damage assessment, and training forensics to better understand the incident, both during and after it has concluded.

To make this technology a reality, the company partnered with Onica, a Rackspace Technology company and AWS Premier Consulting Partner, to implement the cloud-native ecosystem required to support this cutting-edge IoT and augmented reality device.

“Working with the experts at Rackspace Technology allowed us to leverage cloud native with confidence,” said, Sam Cossman, CEO at Qwake Technologies. “We had the idea, vision, and overall augmented reality solutions in place, but Rackspace Technology took us to the next level with their deep IoT and cloud native expertise.”

Qwake Technologies’ AR Navigation and Visual Communication platform is the first and only cloud-enabled firefighting solution of its kind and represents a significant technological advancement for a segment that hasn’t seen much technology innovation. The device, which enables two-way visual communication and personal navigation, allows an otherwise smoke-filled house to appear clear and direction able. It has already been piloted by the Department of Homeland Security and the Boston Fire Department.

“Qwake Technologies is creating life-saving devices that are transforming the way firefighters do their jobs,” said Jeff DeVerter, CTO Solutions at Rackspace Technology. “With so much on the line, a tech failure simply isn’t an option. In working with Qwake, the Rackspace Technology team knew cloud native and top-tier IoT connectivity was pivotal to the project’s success. We’re proud to support Qwake in its journey to improve the lives of both firefighters and citizens.”

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