The Department of Homeland Security and NASA have teamed up to create a new technology capable of detecting the heartbeats of disaster victims through up to 30 feet of rubble, 20 feet of solid concrete, or across 100 feet of open space. The device, named Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (or FINDER for short), uses extremely sensitive radar technology to pick up faint signals that might otherwise be missed in the aftermath of a building collapse.

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Image © US Department of Homeland Security

Search and rescue teams will be able to use FINDER to quickly pinpoint any living victims of earthquakes or tornados who might be trapped beneath rubble — even if they’re unconscious. The device isn’t intended to replace current disaster-relief measures, but to complement the use of dogs, listening devices, and video cameras to help locate victims.

FINDER is expected to be ready for use as early as spring 2014. The newest version of the device is a lightweight 3″x3″x1″ module that uses a USB interface to integrate an antenna, radar electronics, and digital processing equipment with a battery that lasts up to 14 hours.


Lead image © Andy Arthur