This graduation project is performed at the innovation department of Royal Schiphol Group, Schiphol NeXt, together with the fire department of Schiphol Airport. The goal was to investigate how the deployment of smart technology can help making firefighting more efficient and safe.
To be able to find new innovations that fit the firefighters demands and at the same time stay close to realistic possibilities for the business and the technology, a human centred design process is used. It contained an extensive research on the firefighters deepest needs and involved the user in the creation process. This resulted in five main design directions. These design directions where used to create concepts which where tested in the firefighting context. Two direction, ‘improving communication’ and ‘monitoring the health’, where chosen to continue with. Based on these two direction the concept of QuantiFire is created. The concept is embodied by prototyping, testing and consulting experts in the medical, technological and business area.
Heart attacks are one of the leading causes of death among firefighters, both before and after their retirement. Part of this is due to the physical exertion but also due to the heat stress on the body. At this moment, it is not possible to get insights at the heat stress firefighters get during their work. The QuantiFire concept can change that.
QuantiFire is a smart earpiece that measures both the heart rate and the core temperature. With these two variables the device predicts whether the firefighter is likely to get a heatstroke and gives a warning to the user at the moment the situation becomes critical. Because people react differently on different temperatures, the system uses data analytics to recognize patterns in the data in order to make a personal estimation of the health status. The device is a custom fit earpiece, which ensures the sensors are placed right to measure reliable data.
To ensure the innovation will be embraced by the firefighters, the earpiece also functions as a communication device. Firefighters already have a lot of stuff to take care of, so an extra device that only measures the health will only get resistance. The QuantiFire uses bone conduction to record a clear voice without the background noise.
The fire department of Schiphol has shown great interest in this concept and wants to continue the project next year. The next step will be collecting physiological data during firefighting exercises. With this data it is possible to find out how the system should work.
In October 2017 the QuantiFire project was on display at the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven.
The project got a lot of publicity through an article in monthly magazines 'De Ingenieur' and 'KIJK'. The project is also nominated as Best-Tech-Idea 2018 of the Netherlands.
© 2018 Olivier van Nieuwmegen