Vibrating Helmet Lets Firefighters Make Like a Bat and See in the Dark


Let us paint a less than 1,000 word picture for you. Once there was a rich, golden-hearted child whose parents died in a routine mugging. That boy grew up to have an affinity for bats and eventually became protector of an entire city. That man, whose name rhymes with SplatJan, had a host of gadgets to help him on his crime-stopping quest. Now every day people are getting some of that gadgetry. Introducing a massively cool new helmet for use in fighting fires.

A team  from the Sheffield Centre for Robotics in England has concocted a vibrating helmet that lets firefighters see in the dark. If you automatically thought of how a bat navigates thru darkness, you aren’t far off. The helmet features a number of ultrasound sensors that detect distances between the helmet and surrounding surfaces. This information is then transmitted to a number of sensors that rest inside the helmet, sending off helpful(and good) vibrations. What was once dark and unfamiliar territory then becomes a little bit less dark and unfamiliar.

These working prototype helmets have been getting real use in actual emergency situations. They have been donated to the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and so far the results have been exemplary. It probably won’t be long before they make their way across the pond and start helping firefighters do their job all over the world. Kittens in trees, look out. Your days are numbered. By numbered, we meant you’ll no longer be in the tree, not that a firefighter will kill you. That’d be weird.