Life saving mobile app developed

RESCUE: Mobile phone app could cut the vital time needed to rescue the trapped and the missing Photo credit: Flickr

A PROFESSOR from the University of Alicante has developed a potential life-saving application that can locate missing people…even if there is no ‘phone coverage where they are.

José Ángel Berná Galiano – a professor at the Department of Physics and Systems Engineering and Signal Theory at the UA – is a mountaineering enthusiast and it was that which motivated him to develop a unique piece of technology that finds injured or missing people where the speed of rescue is essential to save lives.

The system could also be used in emergency situations such as earthquakes, floods, and forest fires where mobile telephone networks can be severely damaged.

Professor Galiano said: “We have designed an application that can be incorporated into any smartphone and, without having mobile coverage, emits a WiFi signal which acts as a distress beacon and can reach a distance of several kilometres.”

The signal sent out contains the location coordinates of the missing or injured person which can be detected by a lightweight portable device – also developed by the professor – that would be used by the rescue teams.

When an incident occurs, the holder of the mobile phone only has to activate the app that will periodically send out a distress beacon which could continue for hours or even days at a time.   During tests of the app both on land and at sea, it was discovered that the signal was being received up to three kilometres away, with the possibility of increasing this coverage capacity as the app development continues.

Similar technology exists to trace people from mobile phone signals but not from Wi-Fi.

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