Dalmatian

How can we make firefighters safer?

Within 2 was a project I worked on with Meyer Sound, The Berkeley Center for New Media, and Artist Tarek Atoui. We started with the question of How do we create music for the hearing impaired?

Team
Mitchell Karchemsky
Will Porter
Simon Scott
Yi Tong

My Role
Initial Prototyping
Idea Exploration
Product Manufacturing
Embedded System Design

Methods
Prototyping
eagleC AD
Sketching
3D CAD
Software Programming

Dalmatian

In the Fall of 2016, I enrolled in the class “Interactive Device Design” with Björn Hartmann and took on the project of creating better response technology for emergency personnel. We interviewed with firefighters all around the San Francisco Bay Area, and we found that the hardest part of their job was communication.

We understood that only about 20% of radio communications are fully understood between both parties: the incident commander who handles the situation from a van outside the scene, and the firefighter on the scene.

Verbal communication in an area where air currents get highly modulated due to fire creates an almost impossible situation for microphones to pick up verbal calls. We found that most of the work that the firefighter does, they are trained for: there is no real question of what they are supposed to do when they arrive on the scene. The main issue is personnel management and safety from an incident commanders perspective.

To answer all the problems/goals, we wanted to create a device which would not directly interfere with the firefighters active duties, but at the same time, provided critical information to the the incident commander.

Utilizing a multitude of sensors, we are able to give a personal biometric bubble for each firefighter on the scene. Our device collected ambient temperature, gps position, acceleration/movement, accurate oxygen tank level, compass direction, HD Video, as well as Thermal Video. All of this information gets transmitted to a central computer stationed in the back of the incident commanders van (they already use a van which has a variety of documents and radios) where they would use a touch screen user interface to actively see the positions as well as critical information for each responder. The system was designed with smart alerts (oxygen running low, ambient temperature too high, etc) as well as an easy information explorer.

The device was built from the ground up with around the Raspberry pi A+ and tying all the sensors in between with custom firmware, custom hardware, and custom software.

At the end of the class, we won the best project award among the other class projects. We received a lot of interest from fire departments and hardware incubators so another project partner and I took the project as an opportunity to explore the idea as a startup concept. We spent the next 9 months together turning the project into a company. We ended up working with Berkeley, San Mateo, Richmond, and Oakland Fire Departments to tailor to their needs and we received a lot of interest in making the product a reality. We won a design competition for $20,000 in funding, as well as other prizes.

You can read more about it here in this press release

Due to personal matters, my partner and I decided to put the company on hold.

Teaching Experience

Courses and Mentorship

Critical Practices

Teaching Assistant

A hands-on, studio design course where students work at the intersection of technological innovation and socially engaged art.

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Design Innovation 22

Teaching Assistant

This introductory design course teaches concepts, skills, and methods required to design, prototype, and fabricate physical objects.

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Invention Lab

Technical Design Mentor

The Invention Lab is a UC Berkeley makerspace focused on helping students, researchers, and faculty to make embedded systems inventions.

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Case Studies

Selected Works

Bifröst

Better Embedded Systems Debugging

Berkeley Institute of Design. How do we better instrument embedded systems for combined software and hardware debugging?

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Dalmatian

How can we make firefighters safer?

Technology startup focused on creating a safer more effective workforce for firefighters through the use of on-person telemetry units.

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Within2

How do we create music we can feel?

Collaboration with Meyer Sound, The Berkeley Center for New Media, and Artist Tarek Atoui. How do we create music for the hearing impaired?

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MakerPass

Hardware and Industrial Design

The MakerPass Authentication system allows for Maker-spaces to grant access to privilaged members in a low-cost, easy to implement solution.

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Doom Sense

How can we feel information?

An experiment in haptic feedback modalities and sensory extension. We improved the performance of a player by delivering curated contextual information

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Drill Sergeant

Hardware and Industrial Design

Berkeley Institute of Design. Drill Sergeant enables new makers to build confidence through self-guided interactive physical feedback driven tutorials.

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