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Intelligent management of critical events of stress, fatigue and smoke intoxication in forest firefighting

The goal of the Vital Responder research project is to explore the synergies between innovative wearable technologies, scattered sensor networks, intelligent building technology and precise localisation services to provide secure, reliable and effective first-response systems in critical emergency scenarios.

The core problem under consideration is evaluating human stress in real-time under adverse conditions, by means of continuous online vital sign monitoring of first responders. Turning this vision into an engineering reality requires significant advances on several fronts: (a) real-time information gathering of body signals is very hard to achieve in uncontrolled and dangerous environments, (b) GPS based location systems do not work indoors, and (c) inter-disciplinary research between engineers and clinicians on the origins and nature of physiological stress is still at an early stage.

The “silver bullet” is provided by a high-tech company named Biodevices, which together with researchers at the University of Aveiro developed a suite of non-intrusive wearable technologies, as inconspicuous as a t-shirt, capable of gathering relevant information about the individual.

The next step, which is currently being taken in collaboration with researchers at IT, University of Porto and Carnegie Mellon University, is to view Vital Jackets as nodes of a distributed system that leverages the rich data sets with short-range communication, intelligent building technologies and localisation capabilities. Ultimately the team will deploy a prototype infrastructure that enables continuous online monitoring of the information collected. Companies like McLaren Electronics and Petratex are also involved in the project.


Principal Institution: IEETA/Universidade de Aveiro
Principal Investigator (PI): João Paulo Silva Cunha, PhD, Associate Professor (with "Agregação"), Faculdade de Engenharia, U.Porto/INESC TEC
Partner: Instituto de Telecomunicações (IT)


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