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Holograpy Could Help Firefighters See Through Flames

Fighting fires is dangerous for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is the lack of visibility caused by all the smoke and flames. Not only does this make it difficult for firefighters to navigate, it also makes it challenging to locate people who may need help.

There are infrared (IR) cameras that can help penetrate smoke, but the radiation emitted by the flames can blind these instruments. Some Italian researchers have come up with a new approach that uses IR digital holography to help locate people.

The team at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) Instituto Nazionale di Ottica came up with a solution that disperses a beam of infrared laser light widely throughout a room. The reflected light is recorded by a holographic imager, and decoded to show details hidden by the smoke and flames. The researchers plan to develop a portable system that can house both the laser and the IR camera for use in emergency responder scenarios.

Other applications might include non-destructive testing of large aerospace composite structures, and for biomedical imaging.

You can see the technology in action in the video below, and read the report in Optics Express, the open-access journal of the Optical Society.

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About the Author

Brian Albright's avatar
Brian Albright

Brian Albright is the editorial director of Digital Engineering. Contact him at [email protected].

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