Wearable sensors create map of interiors

Sept. 24, 2012 at 9:43 PM
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A wearable sensor system that automatically creates a digital map of the environment through which the wearer moves has been developed, U.S. researchers say.

Computer scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said such a system could be useful as a tool to help emergency responders coordinate disaster response.

In tests at MIT, as a researcher wandered the halls of campus buildings the sensors wirelessly relayed data to a laptop in a distant conference room where observers were able to track his progress on a map that was created as he moved.

A handheld pushbutton device lets the system weather annotate the map, with researchers saying they envision emergency responders being able to add voice or text tags to the map, perhaps indicating structural damage or a toxic spill.

"The operational scenario that was envisioned for this was a hazmat situation where people are suited up with the full suit, and they go in and explore an environment," lead researcher Maurice Fallon, of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, said.

"The current approach would be to textually summarize what they had seen afterward -- 'I went into this room on the left, I saw this, I went into the next room' -- and so on. We want to try to automate that."

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