Children

Neck collar for kids deploys air bags to prevent drowning

Neck collar for kids deploys a...
The Buddy Life-Collar is worn around the child's neck as they play near the water
The Buddy Life-Collar is worn around the child's neck as they play near the water
View 2 Images
The Buddy Life-Collar with its air bags deployed
1/2
The Buddy Life-Collar with its air bags deployed
The Buddy Life-Collar is worn around the child's neck as they play near the water
2/2
The Buddy Life-Collar is worn around the child's neck as they play near the water

No matter how watchful of an eye parents may keep on their small children, it's still possible for those kids to fall into swimming pools, lakes or other bodies of water. The Buddy Life-Collar was designed for such incidents, as it automatically inflates to keep its wearer's head above the surface.

First invented by Tadas Juknius when he was a Materials Sciences PhD student at Lithuania's Kaunus University of Technology, Buddy has been around in prototype form for the past couple of years. It is now being commercially developed by spinoff company Smartmedic.

The 120-gram (4.2-oz) device takes the form of a hinged collar that is worn around the child's neck as they play near the water, and it reportedly doesn't restrict their movements. A built-in moisture sensor detects if they fall in, triggering four airbags to inflate out from Buddy's sides. These deploy within three seconds, which is said to be fast enough to prevent drowning, while not being so rapid that the deployment itself could cause injury.

The Buddy Life-Collar with its air bags deployed
The Buddy Life-Collar with its air bags deployed

According to the university, the inflated Buddy then keeps the child's head held out of the water, until they can be rescued. Once they're safe, the collar can simply be taken off.

Smartmedic claims to have received good responses to the prototype at trade shows, and is now moving toward mass production.

The Seal pool safety system also incorporated collars worn by kids, although in its case those collars wirelessly transmitted an alert to a central hub device. It failed to meet its crowdfunding goal.

Sources: Kaunus University of Technology, Smartmedic

5 comments
CAVUMark
I learned to swim. That helped keep my head above the water.
WAVE
Drowning remains the second leading cause of accidental death of children in the US and a leading cause of death of adults. It's often misunderstood that learning or knowing how to swim can prevent drowning but while of course it is helpful, there is no conclusive evidence that knowing how to swim prevents drowning. In fact people of all ages, athletic and swimming abilities can and do drown. Additionally, according to the CDC almost 90% of drownings occur with adult supervision present, and over a quarter occur with trained lifeguards present. This is why drowning detection technologies should be considered to increase swimmer safety regardless of ability or supervision. If it can help save a life it is well worth it. Dave Cutler coFounder WAVE Drowning Detection Systems
dean27
This device with a little modification (some type of strap situation for under the arms) could possibly help Laryngectomy patients.
ljaques
Oh, good. It's not one of the types which actively try to drown the kid. Some of them are so poorly designed that they'll kill ya. https://is.gd/AQWXvP Parents, teach every child how to swim from age ONE! They'll instinctively learn how to hold their breath in the water. By age 4, they will be able to swim like a dolphin.
Nik
If they climb trees, and other structures, like I used to do, it could end up hanging them. However, I suppose this is meant for kids that are actually by water being watched. If ''Additionally, according to the CDC almost 90% of drownings occur with adult supervision present, and over a quarter occur with trained lifeguards present,'' then one would question whether the supervision needs improving, rather than strapping a plastic ring round a kids neck to compensate for it.