UC Irvine developing wireless emergency response backpack

Published 26 July 2006

University of California Irvine developing response system which may revolutionize the communication capabilities and productivity of first responders in the field

It’s called the Evac-Pack and may soon be worn by first responders around the country. This futuristic device under development at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the University of California Irvine (UCI) is a wearable, wireless, multimodal communication system which will allow first responders to stay in constant two-way contact an operations center. The GPS/Bluetooth-equipped pack is the brainchild of UCI professor of computer science systems, Sharad Mehrotra. Mehrotra, as principal investigator, conceived of the idea for the Evac-Pack for the National Science Foundation-funded research project called ResCUE — Responding to Crises and Unexpected Events. “Evac-Pack employs ‘human-as-sensor’ technology that benefits first responders in emergency situations as well as crisis control centers trying to analyze the extent of a disaster,” Mehrotra said. The equipment consists of a backpack-transported computer, a wireless mouse, video camera, and a wearable keyboard. The apparatus also comes with an eyeglass-mounted visual display, and full-duplex audio microphone and earpiece allowing for continuous communication and situational awareness. In smart buildings — ones wired with an 802.11 network, a layout of the building is visualized as a map in the wearer’s eyepiece. Blue dots in this image signify where people or activity is located in the building, cutting down on time wasted in doing full building searches. The system is also able to detect hazardous gasses present within the environment.