Researchers of the Universidad de Alicante (UA) have developed a new app capable of locating people in areas without a phone signal.
This breakthrough could be a boon in tracing people who have suffered an accident in remote locations without a phone signal and where a speedy rescue is essential to save lives.
According to the technology’s creator, professor José Ángel Berná, the system can also be used in emergency situations that arise as a result of earthquakes, floods or forest fires, where mobile phone infrastructure is often rendered useless.
“We have designed an application (app) that can be incorporated to any Smartphone and that, without a signal, emits a Wifi signal which in turn acts as a distress beacon over a distance of several kilometers.”
The signal contains the location (coordinates) of the person who has suffered the accident or disappeared and uses the smartphone emitter, along with a short message that “can be altered depending on the situation, with examples such as ‘I am injured’, ‘I am disorientated’ or ‘I need help.’
Berná has also created a light portable receptor device to detect distress signals in mountainous regions. The device comes with a small antenna and can be connected to the search party’s smartphone.
When an accident occurs, the victim only has to activate the mobile phone app, which will in turn emit the distress signal periodically – for hours or even days, even if he or she is unconscious – indicating the coordinates of its location.
According to Berná, the new system makes it possible to ‘optimise the search and decrease tracking time’, a vital aspect when taking into account that, ‘in the case of many deceased people, autopsies have revealed that they survived for several hours and did not die instantly, but it had been impossible to locate them on time.’
Moreover, since the system does not require visual contact with the victim, there is no nuisance of interfering signals, helping the rescuers pinpoint its exact location, even if it lies several kilometers away or it is trapped among the rubble of a collapsed building.
Image and content: Asociación RUVID/José Ángel Berná