The famous myth describes Swiss St. Bernard mountain dogs carrying a small whiskey barrel on their collars to revive missing skiers in the snow. Now, thanks to UK surveillance technology specialist Cobham, man's best friend is now carrying electronic technology that dramatically improves a disaster victim's odds of survival.
Cobham's COLCAM, Canine Collar Mounted Wireless Camera System, turns dogs trained for surveillance, bomb detection and rescue into the eyes, ears, and even voice of rescuers. Weighing only half a kilogram, the device carries a low-light camera and illuminator, plus a microphone, audio speaker, transmission system and battery and fits to any medium-to-large sized working dog collar.
With their powerful sense of smell and ability to search areas too confined or unwieldy for humans, dogs have become part of rescue legend. With the COLCAM, rescuers can see what the rescue dog is seeing, hear local sounds and even communicate with the dog or rescue victim. Cobham's state of the art Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (COFDM) microwave transmission system gives excellent image quality even when the dog is moving at speed out of direct line of sight, at typical ranges of 300 meters.
"Combining the legendary detection ability of dogs with the COLCAM gives victims a much better chance of survival," said Cobham Tactical Communication and Surveillance's Andrew Tilbury. "The ability to see, hear and even talk with the victim dramatically increases our situational awareness, which inevitably helps create the safest possible rescue plan for both victim and rescuer."
The COLCAM system includes the collar device and a robust portable Cobham NanoVue wireless receiver, which can be hand held or chest mounted. The receiver includes a high resolution screen, video and audio output and Internet Protocol (IP) streaming, allowing video received from the dog collar to be streamed immediately to control rooms or other rescuers. It also has optional built in recording.
In addition to its use in rescues, the COLCAM is also attracting interest from law enforcement and bomb squad teams for tasks such as identifying suspects, capturing video evidence and enabling operators to stand off and make remote assessments of devices and dangerous environments.