Wearable Real-Time Mapping Device Developed at MIT

The prototype sensor in use.

Screengrab via MIT

Researchers at MIT have developed a wearable sensor that automatically creates a digital map on the fly as the user moves through an area.

The system makes use of a laser rangefinder that sends a beam around a 270-degree arc. By calculating the time it takes the light pulses to return, an attached computer can calculate the walls of a room. In order to account for persons movement, a cluster of accelerometers and gyroscopes, a camera and a barometer were also installed to correct for changes in speed, angle and elevation.

Currently the whole system is contained in a backpack with a small chest plate containing the sensors. There is hope to eventually shrink the device to about the size of a coffee mug.

Although the prototype is envisioned as a tool to help emergency responders coordinate disaster response in buildings, once its smart enough to deal with imperfect situations this kind of technology could definitely have a future in cave mapping.

Automatic building mapping could help emergency responders [MIT News]

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