In another demonstration of digital-signal-processing capabilities, Michael Masterman, President of Extreme Endeavors (Philippi, WV) showed how sensors built into firefighters’ protective gear can save lives. The sensors provide information about motion, heart rate, and other vital signs. But to measure these characteristics, the equipment must remain unobtrusive and must require no sensors directly attached to the firefighter. Instead, the protective suit incorporates sensors that pick up vital signs and process them through a Texas Instruments DSP chip. Masterman stressed the challenge of extracting useful information from an ambient environment—inside the suit—where noise can occur only 20 dB below the measures characteristic. First, the DSP technology will take data from the suit and extract the heart rate--using mathematical computation information--from noise 100 times greater than the heart beat itself, said Masterman. Second, the DPS chip provides a software-defined radio so you do not need separate components for a radio; it’s all in the chip. The radio will communicate vital signs to nearby personnel-monitoring equipment.
During a demonstration of the wireless technology, a firefighter performed simulated activities as Texas Instrument Developer Conference participants observed suit and firefighter conditions displayed on a large PC display. According to Masterman, many fatalities occur because firefighters over-exert themselves and have no way to monitor their conditions. The final Extreme Endeavors will include a small display that firefighters can monitor as well as a wireless link that will let supervisors and chiefs monitor the conditions of their fire company’s people.