The latest tech from NASA just saved the lives of four people trapped in the rubble left from the recent earthquake in Nepal. NASA’s FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response) located people by using a microwave radar that could sense and then locate their heartbeats. The prototype devices are a joint effort from NASA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. Weighing in at the size of a suitcase, two of the devices were brought to aid the humanitarian effort in Nepal.
NASA’s FINDER can detect a heartbeat through 30 feet of debris, 20 feet of concrete, or from 100 feet away in the open air. The device can pinpoint the location of a live person to a five-foot range. FINDER can even tell the difference between animal and human heartbeats; so, precious man-hours won’t be wasted trying to free a trapped goat from a fallen building, when saving a person trapped under the same debris would be a better use of man-power.
FINDER is only a prototype at the moment, and NASA has plans to market the tool commercially. NASA is also using its satellites to generate maps of remotely damaged areas like the village of Chautara, Nepal, pictured above. Other companies are using Nepal to test developing technologies, as well. Drones from Skycatch are surveying the damage in Nepal and taking high-resolution photographs of the destruction.
DigitalGlobe is offering its satellite imagery for crowdsourced damage reports. People can sign on and geo-tag damaged locations, creating an accurate representation of the widespread damage on the ground.