We can all imagine what a scuba diver looks like, but what about a smoke diver? A smoke diver is someone who, like a SCUBA diver, wears a compressed air tank on their back (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus), but instead of searching underwater in the depths of the ocean, they journey into heavy smoke conditions to carry out their missions. They are elite among firefighters and have advanced training in their craft to be able to endure both the toughest physical fatigue and the also the most gripping mental strain. Visibility can drop to zero and time will never be on your side.

Firefighters and smoke divers currently use thermal imaging to help with search and rescue, and to detect hot spots, but most popular devices like Teledyne’s Flir K55 ($4,495) are handheld. If you already understand the value of a heads-up display to give the user hands-free navigation, now imagine you are in a room many times the heat of the Nevada desert, it’s filled with smoke and fire, and you are trying to locate someone while also being ready at any moment to swing your axe or dig with your shovel. You will no doubt want both of your hands.

Enter Longan Vision Corp. which provides thermal imaging solutions by equipping Firefighters with thermal imaging modules, the Fusion Vision System (FVS). An FVS can be configured to work with the firefighter’s existing equipment – it can go on any helmet, and immediately give that person all of the data that they were getting from the handheld, only now they are completely hands-free and have that much more agility to find victims, locate fire sources, or to see through the blanket of smoke.

Fire has touched all of our lives, most recently with the tragic fires on Maui in August 2023 that left Lahaina devastated and around 1000 people still unaccounted for. And from the U.S. to Canada and beyond, fire season, and especially wildland fire during drought, is a new reality for which to prepare almost year-round. This means that cutting-edge solutions like the Fusion Vision System, are worth taking a closer look.

Thank you to Longan Vision’s VP of Fire and Defense Andrew Leaman for the really fun demo, especially for such a serious topic, at AWE 2023. This is the second video in my AWE Discoveries Series which can be viewed here or on Hopscotch Interactive’s YouTube Channel. For more information such as pricing, technical specs, and for further questions visit Longan Vision or check them out on YouTube. They’ll also be demoing this month at Fire-Rescue Canada, Canada’s premier conference for Canadian Fire Chiefs. We hope to bring a helmet to our local firefighters in El Cerrito, CA for a burn demo one of these days when they are back in the Bay, so stay tuned for a follow-up in the hopefully near future.

AR Insider’s Editor-at-Large Emily Olman is an XR community builder, roving journalist, and CEO & Chief Media Officer of Hopscotch Interactive.

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