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Augmented reality technology can help first responders in real-world emergencies

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Greensboro, NC (WGHP) – Some developers believe augmented reality is the future for first responders.

It’s a digital technology you can wear to aid in real-world emergencies where seconds matter.

Dr. Regis Kopper, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at UNC Greensboro, said:

Copper is developing a prototype device that sends critical information directly to emergency responders. It can be attached to a firefighter’s helmet or strapped to a police officer’s arm.

“Virtual reality is ready and we can already show the benefits of training,” says Kopper.

Meanwhile, Copper uses a lightweight headset, armband, and two hand controllers to create a virtual reality computer program that recreates an emergency simulation. Train first responders and showcase their response using augmented reality.

“In training situations, it’s all about creating scenarios that mimic real-life situations that may be uncommon or expensive to simulate,” he said.

Situations like unpredictable traffic outages, complex medical requests, and explosive house fires.

An emergency begins when the headset is placed on the user’s head.

“We’re not interacting with game controllers,” Kopper says. “We are interacting with the whole body just like in real life.”

Kopper is developing a device that makes this technology practical for emergency calls.

“Augmented reality is coming, but not fully, yet,” he said.

Instead of an entirely computer-generated world, first responders will see a combination of both through their eyes.

“There are see-through lenses, but those lenses have technology that can render images and render images at different perceived depths,” Copper said.

This is how paramedics get real-time information within eye contact.

“Instead of showing it on a handheld device, it shows it directly on a helmet-mounted display,” he said.

In this example, a police officer can obtain a warrant immediately, a firefighter can sense the intensity of the flames, and an ambulance crew can follow orders to check a patient’s vitals.

Copper said it was an invention to improve efficiency, make accurate decisions, and respond quickly to the unexpected.

“It can help first responders focus more on tasks that can put their lives at risk,” Copper said.

Nearly $2 million in grants will be used to support the development of this technology. Copper told FOX8 that it’s been around for less than a decade.

Copper works with the Triangle’s UNCG Police, Greensboro Police, and law enforcement.

He said virtual reality will not replace traditional training for first responders.