Pint-sized rescue device calls satellites for fee-free help
Although it's certainly a good idea for outdoor adventurers to carry emergency rescue beacons, the devices can be cumbersome, and often require a user subscription. The Hero, however, is about the size of a pepper grinder, and it costs nothing to use.
Created by UK startup Infinite Media Dynamics, the Hero can reportedly be utilized anywhere in the world, without a smartphone or phone service.
Should the user get injured, lost or otherwise be in trouble, they manually activate the device simply by flipping a switch. This causes it to transmit a distress signal, which is picked up by a worldwide dedicated search-and-rescue satellite network operated by Cospas Sarsat. Because that network is funded by various countries' governments, there is no charge for using it.
After the signal has been received, the user's location and personal info is automatically relayed to a constantly-manned rescue coordination center. Staff there proceed to contact whichever search-and-rescue team is located closest to the user's coordinates, plus they contact family members or friends on a predetermined in-case-of-emergency list.
A confirmation signal is then sent back from the satellite network to the Hero, on which an LED illuminates in blue to let the user know that help is on the way. Once the rescuers start getting close, they can home in on the Hero's radio signal, plus a built-in 500-lumen white strobe light and a buzzer can be utilized to alert them to its presence.
Given that users might not always be in a position to flip the device's switch, it can also be set to automatically send a distress signal if it receives a sharp impact, remains motionless for an extended period, or stays in the water for too long. In all cases, users are given a 49-second warning period, during which they can stop it before a signal is sent. They can also utilize a smartphone app to remotely trigger the Hero, from a distance of up to 100 meters (328 ft).
The 65-gram (2.3-oz) device itself is buoyant, shockproof, waterproof to a depth of 65 meters (213 ft), and operates in temperatures ranging from -55° to 70° C (-67° to 185° F ). Its battery is said to be good for over 24 hours of distress signal-transmission, and should last for a claimed 10 years when not in use.
Should you be interested, the Hero is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of £154 (about US$191) will get you one, when and if they reach production. The planned retail price is £229 ($285).