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Professor Hopes New Glove Will Help Firefighters In The Dark

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Firefighters may have a new way to see in the dark, thanks to an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota.

It could let them see through smoke too. Lucy Dunne has put a sensor in a firefighter glove and has been busy testing it in the lab. To Dunne, this standard-issue firefighter glove has a world of potential.

“It’s so they can feel their way through a room without having to touch anything,” she said.

The assistant professor said the technology inside is similar to sonar.

“So it sends out an electronic pulse and then it times how long it takes to get back to the sensor and that gives you an idea about distance, how far away something might be,” Dunne said.

You point the glove at an object and it will vibrate. Harder when its closer, softer when it’s further away. It almost feels like a cell phone vibrating in your hand.

Until now, Dunne’s glove has never been tested by professional firefighters. We were able to convince the Minneapolis Fire Department to lend a hand.

In theory, the glove will guide firefighters through poor visibility. Staff Captain Stephanie Johnson had valuable and practical feedback on the glove.

“I do think the reaction has to be quicker if I were going to move fast through a room,” Johnson said. “It’s been really interesting to see their body positions and the way they use their hands when they’re navigating a room.”

Dunne will take the feedback back to the lab. Firefighters are really hoping there is technology out there that could help find a person. The technology in the glove can’t distinguish between humans, and say, a couch.

The firefighters suggested that the glove could also help dive crews search underwater.

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