The Department of Homeland security awarded Qwake Technologies a $1.4 million contract to accelerate the commercialization of the C-THRU Visual Communication platform, an augmented reality helmet targeted at firefighters which uses computer vision and augmented reality (AR) to boost situational awareness when lives are on the line.
Qwake was co-founded in 2015 by Sam Cossman (CEO), John Long (CTO), Mike Ralston (COO), and Omer Haciomeroglu (Head of Design), who have a background in scientific exploration, neuroscience, firefighting, and product design respectively.
“Over the last 30 years, firefighting technology has been incrementally improving, but now we have a real paradigm shift in how information is collected, shared and acted on — promising dramatic improvements in safety and efficiency,” noted Cossman. By creating a better tool for firefighters, resources can be used much more efficiently to put fires out thereby protecting more than just lives. Ralston told us, “by reducing the time it takes to find a victim or extinguish a fire by even a few minutes, we [firefighters] can drastically reduce the disruptive effects on communities, businesses, and livelihoods."
The C-THRU platform consists of a helmet-mounted device worn by each firefighter, a tablet application which runs command coordination/video software, a cloud archive of incidents, AR navigational tools (location tracking, points of interest), object detection (lines around objects, shape contour, see through smoke and darkness), and proximity detection of nearby firefighters. The product is hands-free, weighing about the same as two iPhones, replacing the form factor of many helmet or body mounted tools such as flashlights and radios. All of these features are designed to simplify understanding through visual cues while providing support to first responders in high-stress situations.
The product was recently field-tested as part of a commercial pilot with the Boston Fire Department. “C-THRU is one of the first technologies I’ve seen that I think could literally change the game for us — giving our crew the ability to navigate significantly faster while visually communicating over a shared operating picture would have a tremendous impact in our performance and ability to save lives and property,” stated Chief Marty McCormack of the Boston Fire Department Training Division, “the trial was a success as our guys immediately saw the value in being able to navigate, communicate and coordinate visually.”
Qwake plans to continue expanding and growing to different industries such as military or human exploration, creating a movement for improved and simplified visual communication. The product is available to reserve now on their website with a $100 down payment and they hope to have it ready for consumers in the next 12 months.