Members of Team GloveSense, Anna Evans (pictured from left), Luke Anderson, Jonathan Kwan, and Angelo Luo, demonstrate their smart glove for first responder communication. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky.

For firefighters who risk their lives to save someone from a burning building or police officers involved in a standoff with a shooter, communicating without speaking is necessary – if not essential – to their line of work. Unfortunately, poor communication remains a problem in these jobs.

According to a recent US Homeland Security Report, “inadequate communication has a definite negative impact on the safety of emergency personnel and may contribute to injuries or deaths of firefighters, rescue workers, and civilians.”

As part of their Senior Design Project, Luke Anderson, Anna Evans, Patrick Henson, Jonathan Kwan, and Angelo Luo, all members of Team GloveSense, hoped to be a part of the solution.

The team worked with customer Lesley Yu of National Instruments to create a smart glove for first responder communication that allows firefighters and other emergency personnel to communicate through non-verbal gestures.

“As they risk their lives for public safety, an emphasis must be placed on their communication roles,” said Luo. “We believe that there is a dire need for a more effective means of communication.”

Their efforts paid off when GloveSense took home the top prize, the P. T. Hsu Outstanding Senior Design Project, at ECE Day ’11.

The team’s device, which consists of a motion capturing glove, microprocessor for signal processing, and wireless output, functions as an electronic communication system and can recognize a large library of gestures that can be expanded using its LabVIEW software interface.

“Our device, GloveSense, extends the use of existing hand gestures, a fast and reliable communication system, beyond visible and audible range,” the teammates wrote in their project description.

View video of Team GloveSense’s ECE Day presentation.