When search and rescue cameras came on the market in the early 1990s, they fundamentally changed the way technical search specialists conducted operations in collapsed buildings. Search and rescue cameras gave you the ability to see cavities that were otherwise inaccessible.
FIRSTLOOK360 (FL360) is a hybrid rescue camera that uses two cameras and specially developed software to stitch together multiple live spherical streams to create a smooth imagery landscape that can be viewed, analyzed and edited on a mobile device (tablet or smartphone). In addition, the digital video images are transmitted in HD quality and are designed for wired or wireless transmission to an Android mobile device.
Another great advantage offered by this technology is that the images can also be subsequently evaluated in the entire 360-degree spectrum. Not only the respective image sections are evaluated, since the rescue camera stores the entire spherical image. Third parties, such as the rescue leader, can subsequently search freely through the entire 360-degree view, which greatly increases the chances of a successful search.
Some rescue cameras have moving parts to ensure all-round visibility during rescue operations. The sensitive parts enable classic zoom and focus functions. The challenge with devices with such moving parts during a search mission with unpredictable situations is that they can be damaged. The rescue operation is often aborted at this point if a rescue camera is damaged, unless a rescue camera is available as a replacement.
In addition, it is possible to contact or receive sounds from the patient or victim through an intercom system and the microphones and speakers built into the rescue camera. The ability to communicate with patients and victims is an essential and important element of modern rescue cameras.
It is not possible to establish a secure and stable wireless communication between the rescue camera and the tablet for every rescue operation. To ensure that the rescue operation can still be carried out successfully, it is also possible to operate the FIRSTLOOK360 rescue camera wired and thus establish a stable and interference-resistant connection with the search camera.
Our rescue cameras have the advantage that they can be pushed through the smallest cavities and transmit a very good and illuminated image to the screen due to the built-in LED lighting. LED lighting illuminates the environment 360 degrees and saves battery power accordingly compared to classic lighting, which increases the operating time of the rescue camera. LED lighting technology also saves weight, which facilitates the maneuverability of the rescue camera in rescue operations.
In addition, the FIRSTLOOK360 rescue camera can also be used in water and can be easily converted and prepared for longer rescue operations in water. Short missions in wet environments can also be performed with the standard rescue camera equipment without damaging the rescue camera’s microphones and speakers.
The modern and innovative design of the FIRSTLOOK360 rescue camera enables uninterrupted operation, even if the batteries need to be replaced (hot-swap capability). The rescue operation can be continued seamlessly. In addition, the rescue camera uses commercially available rechargeable batteries or batteries and no special products that are time-consuming or costly to procure.
When search and rescue cameras came on the market in the early 1990s, they fundamentally changed the way technical search specialists conducted operations in collapsed buildings. Search and rescue cameras gave you the ability to see voids that were otherwise inaccessible.
The best possible technology is not always used
Older but still-used search cameras often contain an image sensor mounted in a housing that can move left or right via a series of small servo motors attached to finely graduated gears, drives or pulleys. The logical thinking behind this: The camera is placed in a room and moved left and right, then the camera body is rotated 90° so the camera head can be moved up or down to view the rest of the room.
The challenge here is that these movements require a certain amount of space in the empty room. In some cases, however, there is not enough space to move the camera head in this way. If there is not enough space, such a mechanism can quickly be damaged in use. As anyone who uses them regularly will attest, the mechanical head is prone to breakage, defective, expensive repairs, and potentially long downtimes.
The latest generation of search and rescue cameras can already do more
What if the search and rescue camera used contained no moving parts, was versatile, and – most importantly – reduced search times and reduced deployment costs?
Exactly this camera is already available from Firstlook360. The rescue camera offers spherical 360° live streaming and has steering and control options for a structured search. It is controlled via a tablet running the FL360 app. All structured search is done by simply swiping a finger on the tablet’s screen.
The camera offers two-way audio communication, adjustable 360° lighting, wired or wireless operation, live stream or still image recording, time/date/GPS location, mobile connectivity – all in a custom molded IP68 housing.
What exactly is a spherical image?
Technically, the images and videos that the FL360 camera transmits are an indoor spherical panoramic view. To explain this, just imagine taking pictures from the front, back, top, bottom, left and right at the same time, and then stitching them together to form a cuboid with yourself standing in the middle. A spherical view has correspondingly more views and you are not standing in the center of a cuboid, but of a sphere, seeing the captured images.
Spherical 360° imaging is a profound change from what rescue workers have been used to. It captures not only what is in front of the person taking the image, but also what surrounds them. In this way, a comprehensive, high-resolution image of a specific event is created at a specified point in time.
What does this mean for the rescue team?
Such a comprehensive image capture is not only able to capture a snapshot of an object. It captures the entire and interactive context in which the camera is located. The viewer of a shot can see after the fact (On the video) not only what the operator is focused on, but they can also rescan the environment or activities as if they were there themselves.
During operations following natural or man-made disasters – earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and bombings – time is a precious commodity for those trapped. The ability to survey the entire room in seconds allows rescuers to search and subsequently coordinate rescue operations much more quickly and accurately.
Thanks to the wireless transmission of the recorded images and the recorded 360° videos, to the tablet, you can involve rescuers and disaster experts such as doctors, paramedics and civil engineers to better assess the situations accordingly. Thanks to the video recordings, they don’t necessarily have to be on-site, but can also assist you in the assessment from other locations.
Sharing information and managing complex, coordinated rescue operations make Firstlook360 a great and indispensable tool for global rescue teams. With 360° spherical imaging and the FL360 search and rescue camera, the rescue industry now has an entirely new, life-saving technology at its disposal.
During a rescue operation, you want to be able to rely on your equipment unconditionally. The rescue operation must not be jeopardized by complex technology or technology failures. This is especially true for search and rescue cameras.
Current economic conditions are forcing rescue institutions such as fire departments to rethink the way technical operations and rescue missions are conducted, as well as the resources and equipment needed for a successful outcome. The visual search and rescue equipment in use today has evolved only slightly since its introduction in the 1990s. Any rescuer experienced in technical search and rescue can easily point out the weaknesses of current visual search and rescue cameras: they are heavy, the mechanical hinge of the camera head is susceptible to damage, batteries die quickly, configurations are static, and the equipment is expensive to maintain.
Innovative and reliable technology can help increase rescue success in disasters such as earthquakes or building collapses by better and more clearly identifying victims and determining their location under the rubble. Of course, this requires a certain degree of innovative technology coupled with absolute reliability even under difficult and harsh conditions at the scene.
FIRSTLOOK360 reduces search time and provides a comprehensive multi-purpose tool that can be used in various technical rescue situations.
The FL360 rescue camera uses two cameras to create spherical search videos
The FL360 rescue camera has no moving parts that are susceptible to failure, limiting reliability
The videos of the FL360 search cameras can also be searched in the whole 360 degree spectrum after recording
The FL360 search and rescue camera can be operated both wirelessly and wired