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Firefighters Using AR to Fight California Wildfires

Usually known for its year-round temperate weather, California has been experiencing a rather hot summer — even for a state known to have unpredictable weather.

As wildfires continue to spread across the trendsetting state, some fire departments are beginning to use augmented reality technology to fight fires. While some military personnel have experimented with mixed reality training programs, this seems to be the first time a group of emergency responders are using AR during a real crisis.

The technology, called EdgyBees, provides something called “contextual mapping” to emergency teams out in the field. Loosely defined, contextual mapping is integrating information from people’s everyday lives in the design process. This term is normally used in UX and product design, but in this case they are using real-time reporting and a digital overlay to clearly mark affected areas so firefighters can plan their strategy.

CEO of Edgy Bees, Adam Kaplan, had this to say about the current use of his project:

“The unique nature of fighting fires necessitates the use of knowing the precise locations of teams, equipment, and potential hazards. EdgyBees augments live video feeds with geo-information layers, including maps, building layouts, points of interest, user-generated markers, and more data layers that provide visual context and operational intelligence.”

In the simplest terms, the technology can be compared to a sports announcer calling plays in a football game.

EdgyBees enables real-time reporting of information across multiple platforms. The ability to aggregate this information into one place is perhaps the most attractive attribute of the tool. Prior to using tools like EdgyBees, firefighters had to use a combination of a collection of physical maps and radio communication between teams to effectively fight fires.

Now, however, all the relevant information is sent to a single augmented reality interface. One could imagine how this could be applicable to other emergency response teams. Police units could use it to visually map out emergency incidents across the city. The military could use it during operations to identify hot spots and no-go zones.

One thing is for sure: the surface of applications of augmented reality is only just being scratched. But with companies like EdgyBees leading the way, we’re likely to see adoption increase across related industries as the tech becomes more popular. Want to know more? Watch the source video on Youtube.

What do you think about EdgyBees new tech? Let us know in a comment!

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