In the works for years, POINTER (Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Tracking for Emergency Responders) is scheduled for a soft commercial release in early 2022, with a full commercial rollout expected later in 2022.
POINTER addresses a top priority for structural firefighting search and rescue operations: the ability to quickly locate a responder who might be disoriented or separated from their colleagues.
Developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this groundbreaking new 3D technology uses magnetoquasistatic fields. These low-frequency magnetic fields are capable of penetrating dense materials such as wood, concrete and rebar to locate responders within centimeters of their actual position. It can also detect whether the responder is standing, sitting or lying down.
POINTER uses magnetoquasistatic fields to 3-dimensionally locate responders to within 1 centimeter in emergency situations. (DHS Video by Science & Technology Directorate/Released)
The POINTER receiver worn by responders is about the size of a cell phone, weighing just ounces and powered by a small, rechargeable lithium battery. It has been tested by fire departments across the country, including a September 2021 operational test with firefighters in Fairfax, Loudoun and Stafford counties in Virginia.
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: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times