Wearable innovation is coming to first responder technology

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate  has announced the selection of 10 start-up companies to be part of EMERGE 2016: Wearable Technology, an accelerator program designed to bring start-ups, accelerators, and other strategic partners together in a common research and development effort. The program operates in conjunction in conjunction with TechNexus and its partner CIT.

First responders such as police, fire and emergency services  have a tremendous need for devices such as body-worn electronics, advanced sensors, and integrated voice and data communications embedded within their gear. Hands-free wearables can integrate multiple technologies and minimize additional equipment while maximizing effective response efforts.

See also: U.S. research into smart shirts for emergency responder

“This is an important step for science and technology to tap into the innovation ecosystem,” said DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers. “We need to find technologies for first responders that can be integrated directly into their existing gear. The entrepreneurial world is on the leading edge of those inventive solutions.”

As part of the program, the 10 start-ups will have access to first responder feedback, industry partners and investors, and business development educational resources from mentors around the business world. The access and resources available will assist in early market validation efforts, test and evaluation opportunities, and the establishment of a path to introduce their technologies to a variety of markets, including government sector partners.

The selected start-ups include:

HAAS Alert 

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HAAS alert is a connected and autonomous V2V mobile platform that provides preemptive warning to drivers, motorcyclists and bicyclists when emergency vehicles are approaching. This is through a mobile vehicle-to-vehicle communication platform that uses acoustic sensors to pick up environmental and situational noise, and location data to connect people, vehicles, and things in cities, streamlining the disaster and emergency notification process to keep communities safe.

Augmate:

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Augmate have developed a provisioning and management platform for wearable devices that helps IT departments track users and their devices, collect sensor data, communicate with workers, and control approved applications and situational connectivity. The platform enables a workplace to monitor each device’s battery status and last location by implementing locational beacon technology. It’s currently used with good success in industries such as manufacturing and mining and would have a important contribution to emergency services.

Command Wear

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Command Wear have created a software platform that connected with first responders existing smartphones, smart watches and tablets to provide  personnel tracking, two-way text communication and video sharing to speed response, improve situational awareness and keep responders safe. Geo-fencing alerts personnel that they’re entering hazard zones or moving outside an assigned area. Teams can also review everything that happens during a for later analysis or investigation after the event.

Lumenus

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Lumenus is a smart clothing company, creating smart clothing that uses LED lighting and connectivity to improve visibility of consumers and industrial workers. The company ran a Kickstarter campaign last year for two jackets, a vest and a backpack that enable wearers to be seen more easily at night  with a corresponding app  to include a GPS component to promote cyclist safety, which includes cycle-friendly directions and the ability to modify their routes to avoid hazardous locations.

 Six15 Technologies

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Six15 Technologies is the at the forefront of wearable solutions for Public Safety, Security, and First Responders, creating rugged, high-resolution head mounted displays (HMD) and OEM optoelectronic modules including custom computing and display solutions. Their AR Glasses Platform is also used to good affect in industries such as mining and manufacturing.

Vault RMS 

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A 2015 study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that firefighters have up to 2.3x the rate of cancer compared to the average US worker. In response Vault RMS have developed a software platform that leverages biometric and situational data from wearable devices and other inputs to build a long-term health profile of workers exposed to health-compromising environments. For example, Vault tracks workers exposure to fire and carcinogenic materials and provides the data to firefighters when they need health documentation. This drives improvements in health, safety, and overall worker productivity.

The EMERGE program will conclude with opportunities to explore pilot and path-to-market opportunities with the first responder, corporate, and investor communities later this year. It’ll be a great chance for many to see the way wearables are used to great effect by first responders, at times with life saving impact.

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