Can Augmented Reality Be Used by Firefighters to Save Lives?

Firefighters have one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Most of the times, their typical day at work means walking in a room filled with smoke and fire searching for trapped individuals. They can’t see anything or distinguish if they have bumped into a trapped individual, colleague, or a wall. The visibility is extremely low, and the danger is just too high.

But, did you think how great it would be if technology can make this a bit simpler?

Of course, we can’t remove the danger out of this job profile. But, we surely can make visibility better and increase the probability of finding trapped victims sooner than later.

But, how?

Through augmented reality.

Smoke Diving Helmet for Firefighters

A company named Qwake is making the jobs of firefighters easier. They have designed a smoke diving helmet that contains toxicity sensors, thermal imaging, edge detection, and a C-THRU system. This C-THRU system is made by combining various technologies such as thermal optical camera, head-mounted projection display, target acquisition, cloud computing, augmented reality display, and selective active noise cancellation. All these features combined helps in finding victims five times faster. The firefighters can move rapidly with a sense of direction and find people who are stuck in different locations.

Under normal circumstances, the firefighters may crawl by the floor taking wall as the reference to navigate through the area. With C-THRU and this helmet, they can outline what is in front of them – even people. The thing that makes this device effective is its real-time functioning.

Apart from the difficulty to navigate, one struggle faced by firefighters is communicating with co-workers through the breathing mask. If they say it too fast, the voice gets lost and muffled. So, they have to be careful while speaking as they have to speak one word at a time that to really slow. But, the helmet improves communication as well. This means that firefighters can hear their co-workers as well as victims in a better way.

The Smoke Diving Helmet Enhances Decision Making

All the features that we have already discussed regarding the helmet are so promising that they reduce the rescue operation’s time. As an add-on, the company added one additional feature which increases the focus of firefighters by simplifying environment observation.

When we are under stress, our brain’s power of processing things reduces. This can severely hamper the rescue operation. However, using principles of neuroscience and computer science, this helmet is designed in a way lift processing of images. By giving clear object outlines around, the helmet helps firefighters focus clearly.

Increase in Efficiency Through C-THRU

The company conducted a test run with eight firefighters. The results revealed 300% enhancement inconsistency and 267% increase is working speed.


There may be very few practical applications of augmented reality that are actually helping us in difficult situations. But, inventions like these make this technology worth giving a try. If we can have advancements like C-THRU, it would be possible to save so many more lives. No doubt augmented reality is a technology that has the power to save so many extra people during a massive fire.