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ECE Faculty Showcase Advanced Tracking Technology at Fire & Rescue Symposium

ECE Faculty Showcase Advanced Tracking Technology at Fire & Rescue Symposium

The Inertial Navigation Unit, or INU (bottom), and Communications and Sensor Motherboard, or CSM (top). Courtesy of TRX Systems Inc.
The Inertial Navigation Unit, or INU (bottom), and Communications and Sensor Motherboard, or CSM (top). Courtesy of TRX Systems Inc.

ECE faculty showcased new technology advancements in firefighter locator and tracking systems at a research symposium event at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute on April 26. Dr. Neil Goldsman and Dr. Gilmer Blankenship offered a demonstration of advanced tracking technology created through their company, TRX Systems Inc., a part of the University's technology advancement program, MTECH Ventures.

The TRX Sentinel locator and tracking system uses state-of-the-art Micro Electronic Mechanical Systems (MEMS) devices and works exclusively off of satellites, combining MEMS systems with micro computers and sophisticated algorithms to track the movements of firefighters through mapping software, bringing the concept of global positioning system (GPS) indoors.

Goldsman, the president of TRX Systems, says the system is "as easy to use a bank ATM machine." Through the use of two devices, information about each firefighter's location and surrounding conditions is sent to a laptop operated by emergency services personnel. An Inertial Navigation Unit (INU) is worn on the firefighter's belt while the Communications and Sensor Motherboard (CSM) is carried in the breast pocket of the firefighter's outer gear. Information about the firefighter's location and specific movements is sent from a Bluetooth transmitter located in the INU to the CSM, which acts as a radio device and sends the information to the base station laptop.

During a live demonstration of the TRX Sentinel, firefighters wearing the gear entered the outside of the building in search of a downed firefighter. The firefighters were represented by dots on a map and were given instructions by radio where to find the injured firefighter. Within seconds the firefighters where guided to his location.

The TRX Sentinel project was funded in part from a FIRE Act grant worth $825,000 received last year. More information about TRX Systems can be found at http://www.trxsystems.com/. More information about the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute Symposium can be found at: http://www.mfri.org/announcements/headlines.html#Latest. An article featuring the new technology can be found at the Firehouse.com website.

May 9, 2007


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