A UNCG professor wants to help first responders. A $1.8M grant will help him do that.

GREENSBORO — A UNCG professor will use a $1.8 million grant to improve safety for first responders in the field.

Regis Kopper, an assistant professor of computer science, plans to use the National Institutes of Standards and Technology funding to develop augmented reality interfaces that first responders can use to get critical data while they are in the field, according to a news release from UNCG.

“AR displays information and images over a person’s real-world vision – think Google Glass meets Pokemon Go – and is the next technological frontier for improving public safety,” Kopper said in the release. “It will give EMS personnel, firefighters, and law enforcement officers access to critical data when they need it the most, while they are in action in the field.”

He will be working with UNCG computer science colleague Jeronimo Grandi and NextGen Interactions, a Raleigh-based company specializing in virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, UNCG said. Other project collaborators include the Hillsborough Police Department and the NC Department of Information Technology’s FirstTech program.

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Kopper has worked on other federally funded projects that led to user interfaces that Wake County EMS, Durham Fire Department and Hillsborough Police Department personnel tested in virtual reality environments, which simulated soon-to-be-available AR technology.

For example, firefighters could get directions in a burning building, police officers could access driver information during traffic stops, and EMS personnel could get information on complex medical cases.

This latest grant will allow Kopper and his team to adapt these public safety interfaces, and develop more, for use in current AR devices.

In their three-year project, Kopper’s team will create a database of common public safety tasks that can be improved by AR tech. They’ll take that information to create AR public safety modules to test with first responders.

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