New NIST-FirstNet Facility Tests Indoor Location Technology

The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the First Responder Network Authority announced last week that it will launch a virtual-reality research facility that will focus on indoor location and other services for public safety professionals.

The facility, called the Public Safety Immersive Test Center and located at FirstNet’s Boulder, Colo., headquarters, will have 42 optical tracking cameras that will track every object in a test room down to a centimeter, according to an article in StateScoop.  The center is approximately 100 square meters (1,076 square feet) of customized space equipped with a motion capture system, a variety of augmented and virtual reality headsets, and gear, FirstNet said.

New facility tests indoor location technology for public safety (Photo: FirstNet).

NIST and FirstNet will offer the facility at no cost to public safety agencies and organizations that support them—including private sector and academic institutions.  Organizers hope the facility will answer key research questions about the future of user interfaces and location services.

“This facility enables us to take our research to the next level by allowing natural interactions,” said Scott Ledgerwood, leader of NIST PSCR’s User Experience/User Interface Group, in a statement. “Traditional virtual reality simulations required controllers for interaction, which didn’t translate well to real-life scenarios. In this new facility, users can walk or crawl throughout the space, physically touch walls and furniture, and pick up props like fire nozzles or dummies. This approach will improve measures and build confidence in the test results for translations of technologies to the real world.”

Contact: Candice Appiakorang, FirstNet, (202) 510-7505,


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