Researchers have created a device and app that picks up and broadcasts a phone’s location even when no mobile signal is available.
Designed for use in emergency situations where time is of the essence in finding survivors, the researchers’ app emits a wifi signal that acts as a distress beacon. Rescuers can track the signal through the portable receptor that connects to a smartphone and includes a small antenna. Communities struck by natural disasters can often survive for several hours, and the app can help emergency response teams decide where to concentrate their efforts.
The receptor and app are likely to create significant impact on rescue missions in which visual location of victims is impossible, such as freeing people trapped under the rubble of an earthquake. The app is designed to run for days, and other than being turned on, needs no input from the user. Already tested at sea and in the mountains, the app’s signal can be picked up from three and two kilometers distance, respectively, and the team of researchers say that increasing the distance of detection is a developmental priority.
As the effects of climate change become more striking, with environmental disasters becoming stronger and more frequent, sustainable, carbon-neutral responses are needed to cope with the aftermath. From no waste, edible emergency drones that carry food and transform into fuel for fires to ultra-light, self-sufficient, disaster shelters that are also portable, innovators are putting materials science and creative design to life-saving use. How could technology help communities make best use of emergency paraphernalia when transitioning to more permanent structures and routines?