C-Thru is a smoke diving helmet designed to aid firefighters in their search and rescue missions. Since it is almost impossible to see in highly dense smoke, smoke divers have to crawl on the ground and find their way by keeping in contact with the walls, all while carrying heavy air supports and hand-held equipment. At the same time, they need to keep checking their thermal imaging device and holding onto their partner’s air tank handles so they don’t lose each other.
One of the goals with this concept was to provide a near-future vision of the possible solutions to fire-rescue vision and communication problems through the use of technology. With C-Thru, firefighters can walk or run toward a victim instead of crawling on the floor holding the fire hose in one hand and their team mate’s tank handle in the other hand, all while trying to maintain contact with the wall to navigate through the building. Using C-Thru, smoke divers can simultaneously get ready within seconds, keep track of each other, see what is going on around them and get vital information.
C-Thru’s vision system integrates many technologies to aid firefighters, such as a head-mounted projection display, optical thermal camera, cloud computing, selective active noise cancellation and target acquisition.
The optical thermal camera captures the imaging of the surrounding area and sends the data to the smoke diver leader’s handheld device. The data is calculated there and sent back to the helmet. Newly generated 3D wire-frame data is projected by the head-mounted projectors through the retro-reflective front visor of the helmet. This wire-frame outline of their surroundings helps firefighters find a path through the building and locate victims. C-Thru also simplifies many separate layers of heat and impact protection into a single package, which stabilizes and eases movement.
A burning building is a noisy place. Firefighters like to listen to the sounds for warnings of a collapsing ceiling or doorway. But the loud fire sounds also interfere with communication between the smoke diver leader and the team. The Selective Active Noise cancellation feature cancels the sound of the smoke diver’s breathing and enhances the potential structural crack and victim sounds in order to provide better information for the smoke diver and better communication with team members. Also, everything is recorded simultaneously, eliminating any guesswork when the smoke diver leader is later filling out reports, maybe even eliminating the need for a written report at all.