Automatic Building Mapping to Aid Emergency Responders

MIT researchers have built a wearable sensor system that automatically creates a digital map of the environment through which the wearer is moving - a tool that could help emergency responders coordinate disaster response. The prototype sensor includes a stripped-down Microsoft Kinect camera and a laser rangefinder. Connected to the array of sensors is a handheld pushbutton device that the wearer can use to annotate the map. In the prototype system, depressing the button simply designates a particular location as a point of interest. The researchers envision that emergency responders could use a similar system to add voice or text tags to the map - indicating, for example, structural damage or a toxic spill.