App uses Wi-Fi to save people who are lost in the woods
If you're lost or injured in the wilderness, there's a good chance that there won't be cellular coverage where you are – that means you can't just phone for help. Your smartphone may still get you found, however, thanks to a new app designed at Spain's Universidad de Alicante.
When the app is activated by the user, it periodically emits a Wi-Fi signal that acts as a distress beacon which can be detected over a distance of several kilometers. The signal contains information such as the user's GPS coordinates, along with a text message such as "I am injured" or "I am disoriented."
To pick up the signal, rescue crews will require a small antenna-equipped receptor device that connects to a smartphone of their own.
"There is no system in the world that uses Wi-Fi signals to geo-locate a smartphone," says project leader Prof. José Ángel Berná. "There are devices that allow you to detect mobile phone signals from a smartphone and pinpoint its location through triangulation, but it costs around €80,000 [about US$95,629] and requires the use of a helicopter."
By contrast, if enough crews buy and use the receptor device, it could end up costing approximately €600 ($717).
The technology has already been tested on land and at sea, by the Special Mountain Intervention Rescue Groups of the Guardia Civil, and the Maritime Service of the Armed Forces and Maritime Rescue, respectively.