A team from the Faculty of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (USA) has developed and tested a prototype tactile helmet for firefighters and rescuers. The product still carries the code name Haptic Helmet and differs from the usual helmet by the integrated command transmission system. Instead of sound or light, a vibroacoustic signal is used here, which the rescuer can receive and feel even in conditions of zero visibility and intense heat.
Basically, Haptic Helmet is four signal modules plus a wireless communication system, mounted on a standard firefighter's helmet. When the operator senses sound and vibration from the right, he knows to move in that direction. Similarly, the transfer of commands for movement to other directions is carried out.
The wireless communication module can receive signals from a wide range of devices, for example, from the control panel of the remote dispatcher or the radio frequency tablet of the crew commander. Here you can also transmit a signal from a drone, ground robot or quadcopter, from sensors inside the room. Typical situation: a firefighter is cut off from the group, the building is littered with debris, zero visibility due to smoke. In this case, a drone with a thermal imager is sent inside for inspection, and the commander, assessing the situation in the room, remotely prompts the firefighter in the direction of movement.
Another area of application of such a helmet is teaching using virtual reality systems. It is easy to recreate any level of smoke or interference there, and the tactile communication system will just help to develop the skills of quick communication between firefighters.