A team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is testing whether radio frequency identification (RFID) tags could be used to track first responders inside buildings or other structures during emergency situations, NIST Tech Beat reports.
Typical RFID readers register tagged items whenever they pass by, and information pertaining to the items and their locations is collected. The NIST researchers are studying whether low-cost RFID tags scattered around the insides of buildings can determine the specific locations of first responders and send that information to a handheld device made up of an RFID reader and navigation system, among other components, according to NIST Tech Beat.
Since traditional GPS technology doesn’t adequately work inside most buildings, NIST is working to determine if sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes could provide navigational guidance to first responders, NIST Tech Beat reports. Also, the majority of navigation systems slowly lose their accuracy over time, so the new navigation system would make the appropriate geographic corrections whenever an RFID reader registered a tag, correlating the device with its true locations, NIST Tech Beat reports.
Over the next few years, the NIST team plans to define the appropriate parameters in order to determine the number of tags required and the best locations for them to be placed; develop an RFID reader prototype; integrate the appropriate hardware and software components into a wireless network so that information can be relayed to officials; and vet the prototype in a smoke-filled, emergency-like environment, according to NIST Tech Beat.
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