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How Google Glass Can Fight Fires

January 24, 2014
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How Google Glass Can Fight Fires
Google Glass explorer Patrick Jackson has built an app that helps firefighters respond to emergencies Google
This North Carolina firefighter has programmed an app that could save lives.

For firefighters on the front lines, time is always of the essence. With that in mind, Patrick Jackson, a firefighter and self-taught programmer from Rocky Mount, N.C., has designed an application for Google Glass that can feed first-responders the information they need to quickly and effectively assess the scene of a fire or accident, without needing to use another device, such as a smartphone or radio. “I’ll hear a little notification and can look up into the top corner of my vision and see a map of where [the fire] is,” Jackson told CNN about his program. “I see the location of the incident and what type of call it is.”

The first iteration of Jackson’s app performs minor tasks, such as receiving dispatch messages, identifying nearby hydrants or mapping the location of incidents. But Jackson doesn’t plan on stopping there. He’s working on adding even more data in the near future, such as the ability to access buildings’ blueprints, contact info for owners and specs of vehicles. And while Google Glass isn’t yet compatible with firefighting gear, small tweaks to the design of oxygen masks and helmets could allow responders to record video and take pictures with the device, which could be an important tool for investigations.

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Jackson, who studied computer science before transferring to the University of North Carolina, Asheville, to attend the environmental management and policy program, is also the creator of the popular Android app Firefighter Log, which similarly pushes key information about emergency incidents directly to smartphones. To get his hands on the highly coveted Google Glass, Jackson entered Google’s IfIHadGlass competition, then raised money for the app’s development through Indiegogo. After all that work, the app is getting noticed, and Jackson hopes it will be available within the next six months (before Google Glass is even released to the public) in order to help firefighters across the country save more lives.

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