Tactile Distance Feedback for Firefighters

Design and evaluation of sensory augmentation glove

Presented at Augmented Human 2013

What if firefighters’ gloves could also become their eyes? These vibro-tactile gloves were developed to help firefighters see in the dark. Sensors are located on the back of the hands to detect distant physical structures and shapes, even in a dark or smoky room, giving firefighters a better chance of both finding people, as well as finding their own way out, safely.

Glove Design / Features

A: Range-finder

B: Vibrating motors are positioned closest to the joints, to improve skin contact when the hand is flexed or relaxed.

The top motor is positioned close to the middle metacarpo-phalangeal joint (the base of the middle finger), mechanically isolated through a flexible tape joint, and the bottom motor was positioned at the proximal end of this metacarpal (close to the wrist).

Hardware Design / Features

A: Arduino Pro Mini micro-controller

B: Maxsonar EZ4 ultrasonic range-finder

C: Distance ranges are mapped to pulse width modulation of two pancake-style vibrating motors

Closer distances are mapped to a longer pulse width which creates a stronger vibration response from the motors.

Really honored by all the positive feedback for the project

"University of Minnesota researchers have taken a step toward providing first responders with a new means of finding their way through dark or smoky buildings..."

Read the UMNews story