/>
X

Intel builds sensor grenade for firemen

Intel has shown off prototype machine-to-machine sensor devices designed for use by firefighters, sanitation workers and in the oil and gas industries

|
jack-clark.jpg
|
Topic: Innovation
fireball-hand-clark.jpg
1 of 5 Jack Clark

Fireball sensor

Intel's Rapid Prototyping Group has been working on technologies in the field of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. On Monday, at its Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, the chipmaker gave ZDNet UK a look at some of the results, including a throwable sensor for firefighters, a device for studying water quality, and a module for monitoring the stability of large structures such as oil rigs.

The prototype Fireball throwable sensor (pictured) is able to monitor air quality by studying the levels of specific gases in the air around it — ammonia, nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide — along with the air temperature. Data from the sensor is sent to a server located in the fire engine, and then sent on to smartphones and other devices that display the information to the firefighters. Multiple sensors can be used at once and their data aggregated and browsed.

The Fireball is due to go into trials with a US-based fire department soon, according to Intel senior principal engineer Terry O'Shea. The device took six weeks to make, he said. 

In the next generation of the device, the Fireball will be able to feed its location back to the server. This will be done via radio triangulation between the separate fireballs and their main receiver on the fire engine, O'Shea said. 

Weight-wise, the device felt about as heavy as a 500g bag of sugar.

fireball-components-clark.jpg
2 of 5 Jack Clark

Fireball components

The Fireball consists of five main components. Two hemispheres (pictured, top left and top right) form the enclosure for the sensor board (bottom left) and the processor board (bottom right), while the battery sits below a ceramic enclosure (top right). Intel expects the Fireball to withstand temperatures of up to 2,200° F.

smartphone-fireball-clark.jpg
3 of 5 Jack Clark

Fireball software on smartphone

After being aggregated by a server on a local fire engine, data generated by the sensors on the Fireball can be streamed to a smartphone application that displays readouts (pictured, centre). The user can scroll through the different sensors by selecting from the small red dots along the bottom.

water-sensor-intel-clark.jpg
4 of 5 Jack Clark

Water sensor

At the forum, Intel also demonstrated a sanitation device for gathering data on water quality, which it hopes will be used in the developing world as well as by researchers.

The device has four sensors. These gauge the water's cloudiness, known as turbidity (pictured, top cable with blue webbing); its chemical makeup (second from right sensor); its Ph level (third from right); and temperature (fourth from right).

The proof-of-concept device does not use any of Intel's chips, and the company declined to say which processors it did use.

Putting non-Intel chips in the device "helps Intel build the right processors for this [type of task]", said Kevin Rhodes, a senior hardware engineer at the company.

intel-oilrig-stability-clark.jpg
5 of 5 Jack Clark

Oil rig stability device

This prototype device, aimed at energy industries, gauges the stability of large structures such as oil rigs by measuring their movements.

Because of the extreme conditions oil rigs operate in, the device comes with a housing (pictured) designed to be heavy and durable. It is affixed to the struts of oil rigs by clips (pictured, right).

Intel expects multiple sensors to be deployed across a single oil rig. The data they generate will be aggregated, so that problems can be flagged up before a calamity occurs.

O'Shea believes the requisite technologies for widely deployed M2M devices — radio, chips, networking, housings and software — have come to a point where the devices will become widely used within "two to three years".


Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviews delivered directly to your inbox with ZDNet UK's newsletters.


Related Galleries

First Look: Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 3 [pictures]
01-001ef-gf711t-001-front-navy-210719-h.jpg

Related Galleries

First Look: Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 3 [pictures]

26 Photos
Remote working, programming languages, artificial intelligence, and more: ZDNet's research roundup
gartnerhypeai2020.png

Related Galleries

Remote working, programming languages, artificial intelligence, and more: ZDNet's research roundup

10 Photos
Pitfalls to Avoid when Interpreting Machine Learning Models
1-bad-model-generalization.jpg

Related Galleries

Pitfalls to Avoid when Interpreting Machine Learning Models

8 Photos
Toshiba laptops through the ages
screenshot-2020-08-11-at-11-52-27.png

Related Galleries

Toshiba laptops through the ages

11 Photos
Innovative projects now online to combat coronavirus outbreak
7.jpg

Related Galleries

Innovative projects now online to combat coronavirus outbreak

7 Photos
Top programming languages, 5G worries, cloud computing, and more: Research round-up
gsa-status-of-5g-by-country-end-2019.jpg

Related Galleries

Top programming languages, 5G worries, cloud computing, and more: Research round-up

12 Photos
Samsung Galaxy S20 first look: All the models and colors up close
dsc-9870.jpg

Related Galleries

Samsung Galaxy S20 first look: All the models and colors up close

15 Photos