Augmented Reality to the Rescue

The virtual world now can really help save lives.


A joint industry effort has produced ruggedized augmented reality glasses that securely deliver real-time multimedia information to first responders. The solution, developers say, would shave precious minutes off response times, which could mean the difference between life or death.

Such technologies are picking up traction in law enforcement and military environments as officials look to the virtual world for life-saving solutions.

The Recon Jet eyewear—originally designed for endurance sports—is essentially a wearable computer with an integrated camera and networking capabilities. It can capture live video footage and stream it to ground personnel and command centers and transmit a first responder’s location and vital signs. The glasses are the second in a series of devices to emerge from an Internet of Public Safety Things (IoPST) initiative spearheaded by Mutualink. The first was last year’s Wearable Smart Gateway (WSG), a palm-size device first responders can carry or wear that securely sends data from cameras and body sensors, for example, to command posts and other agencies. “The WSG is a high-performance multimedia gateway leveraging mobility, connectivity, resiliency and cloud ecosystems for next-generation first responders,” says Michael Wengrovitz, Mutualink’s vice president of innovation.

The IoPST builds on the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon that emerged a few years ago as the next shiny tech bauble. The idea is to better equip the next generation of first responders with interconnected technology. The IoPST leverages communications tools, incorporates emerging technologies and prepares for the rollout of FirstNet, the first nationwide high-speed wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety.

The glasses, a creation of Intel’s Recon Jet and Mutualink, were developed in the shadow of Google Glass, once considered a failed experiment. Now it is making a comeback as augmented reality eyewear hits the marketplace. The Jet glasses, which include a Global Positioning System (GPS) and Bluetooth capability, are powered by a tiny Intel Edison module. “Because the architecture is flexible and powerful, we’re able to not only get information back securely to the command center across Mutualink’s national network, but we can also turn it around and send information … to the wearable,” Wengrovitz explains.