CEA-Leti and its partners have developed a system combining motion-capture and precise indoor localization. The goal of this device is improving the safety of firefighters and other public-safety personnel in buildings and other confined areas such as underground parking lots. CASSIDIAN, 3D Plus, and SDIS, the emergency-response service for the Rhone region, are Leti’s partners in the Demoloc Project, which is funded by the French National Research Agency.

Containing fires in small, enclosed spaces exposes firefighters to multiple dangers, such as intense heat, smoke, explosions and reduced visibility. These risks are compounded by the fact that the setting is usually unfamiliar, and outside assistance is rarely readily available. In these circumstances, the ability to locate firefighters and other public-safety personnel on the scene can be key to keeping them safe.

In order to remotely determine the location, body position, and level of activity of public- safety personnel inside buildings, Leti and its partners combined an ultra-wideband (UWB) radio localization system, which is not reliant on a radio infrastructure, with motion sensors.

To pinpoint their location, Leti developed an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) using UWB electromagnetic waves and multiple IC tags attached to the rescue workers’ clothing. The system operates in conjunction with a Tetrapol-style professional mobile radio (PMR) and incorporates automated learning and synchronizing of data provided by the network of tags. Information about body position – upright, sitting, lying down – and the workers’ activity is determined using micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) analysis and is transmitted to a command post by the PMR. The required sensors are integrated into a compact unit using a highly specific 3-D stacking process engineered by 3D Plus.

The Demoloc localization system is the first UWB network capable of automatically detecting all points in a network to be implemented without a radio infrastructure.  It has a range of approximately 90 metres and its location accuracy varies from five to 30cm depending on propagation conditions and the position of the rescue workers in the UWB network.

During a test run involving a group of firefighters in a 500m2 parking lot, Demoloc was able to identify with over 90 percent accuracy the six body positions selected by the participants (right lateral decubitus, left lateral decubitus, prone, supine, crouching, standing). The overwhelmingly positive feedback from the trial was presented by EADS in Europe and highlights a genuine interest in the new technologies stemming from the Demoloc project.

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