First responders and emergency personnel often have their hands full in the field. To help get them the information they need without diverting their attention from the task at hand, Motorola Solutions — the data communications and telecommunications equipment provider that spun off Motorola Mobility in 2011 — is launching what it describes as a virtual assistant for first responders.
Dubbed ViQi, it launches today as a part of Motorola Solutions’ APX Next public radio offering and enables users to retrieve information from cloud-hosted databases using natural language interactions. Commands like “ViQi, run a license plate” are among the 95 high-volume searches ViQi supports, covering things like drivers’ licenses, license plates, and vehicle identification numbers. Future versions of ViQi will integrate new databases and take notes, as well as translating foreign languages and calling for vehicle assistance.
In this way, ViQi isn’t unlike Orion Labs’ Panic Bot, a voice assistant made especially for first responders, miners, hotel maids, and others whose work environment sometimes calls for them to be independent or isolated from coworkers. Orion is also developing natural language services that recognize wake words to automate workflows in the less-than-ideal conditions first responders have to operate in with walkie-talkies.
Separately, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed Audrey (Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction, and Synthesis), which collects thousands of data points from sensors on first responders’ protective equipment and offers a suite of plugin tools to perform useful tasks. Operating on a phone-like device, it’s able to correct drugs and dosages, transcribe and analyze photographs and documents, and automatically complete paramedic treatment records while recognizing and interpreting jargon.
Even Amazon’s Alexa is being used to furnish emergency medical teams with mission-critical information hands-free. Massachusetts-based Brewster Ambulance Service announced this year that it intends to install Echo Dots in several of its vehicles to give personnel a quick way to consult treatment information. It’s a voice-activated alternative to the roughly 300-page reference materials and procedure manuals the ambulances currently carry.
“APX NEXT was created after more than 2000 hours of extensive field research and testing with numerous law enforcement agencies,” said Motorola Solutions senior vice president of products Scott Mottonen. “We know that first responders need technology to be intuitive and intelligent to allow them to remain eyes-up, hands-free, and focused in any situation.”
Motorola Solutions’ APX Next features a touchscreen that’s water-resistant and responds to swipes even through gloves. It offers one-touch access to radio controls and a user interface optimized for fast navigation, and it’s compatible with FirstNet, a domestic broadband public safety network being built with AT&T in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority.
APX Next and the ViQi assistant are scheduled to be demoed at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference in Chicago later this month, after which they’ll become available through Motorola Solutions’ existing sales channels.