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The US Federal government will have to play a role in regulating the use of new technologies, said Consumer Technology Association President Gary Shapiro, speaking at the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s EMERGE Wearable Technology showcase.

“When it comes to safety issues, we want the Federal government involved,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro said 80% of the companies in CTA are startup companies. Startups are at the core of S&T’s EMERGE program, which challenges fledgling companies to bring new wearable technology to first responders, such as firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians.

According to, 10 companies, offering devices ranging from carcinogenic exposure trackers to inflatable solar-powered lamps, were selected out of a pool of 260 for this year’s program. Michael Hermus, chief technology officer of DHS, said: “For us, it’s about the data. Advances in data analytics and artificial intelligence are really important. Many operators don’t even know where tech is right now.”

S&T connects its selected startups with first responder agencies, both at the state and Federal level, who may be interested in using their tech. However, Hermus said that DHS benefits from the companies’ ideas just as much as first responders do because they force the agency to overcome the “fear of certain risks” associated with introducing new technology. Transitioning to new technology requires a Federal mind-set shift, Hermus said.

One of the companies selected to the EMERGE accelerator program last year was Vault RMS, the creators of Vault Exposure Tracker that was designed to help firefighters. It is a web-based app that captures data around the toxic exposures firefighters get every day. The system gathers data from 911 systems, wearable devices, and heat & chemical sensors. Firefighters then access it from a very simple app on their phone, computer or tablet, according to

Chris Memmott, CEO & Founder of Vault RMS, said: “Firefighter cancer rates are up to 2.3x the US average. Sadly, many firefighters are denied the benefits they deserve due to a lack of documentation of their exposures.”