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Aug-07-2014 07:00printcommentsVideo

Six Oregon Boys Invent First Rescue Beacon App for Smartphones

Cell phones can easily be tracked by police if the cell towers are active, but when they have been destroyed or overloaded, this ability is lost.

iRescue App
Six Oregon boys have invented the first in the world application for smartphones and other electronic devices that is able locate people in a variety of emergency situations, even when the cell towers are not functioning. Image: Special to Salem-News.com

(CANBY, Ore. ) - Six Oregon boys have invented the first in the world application for smartphones and other electronic devices that is able locate people in a variety of emergency situations, even when the cell towers are not functioning.

iRescue turns any smartphone into a beacon for assistance or a search and rescue tool making anyone a first responder. Their research showed that after a natural disaster many times cell towers are either not working, damaged, or overloaded. Apps which rely on a data connection would be of no use without a cellular network.

The boys wanted to come up with a way of using a smartphone as a rescue tool when the cellular network is down or overloaded. They talked about walkie-talkies, an adaptor to turn a cellphone into a satellite phone, and a variety other ideas.

Then one of the boys discussed how an airplane's black box worked and discussed how it sends out a beacon signal to help locate the device. Could we use a similar strategy with smartphones? The boys said yes. Adam, one of the boys associated with the iRescue idea said. "Since most adults and many kids have cell phones, we thought having a rescue program on cell phones would be a good solution."

Cell phones can easily be tracked by police if the cell towers are active, but when they have been destroyed or overloaded, this ability is lost. After some additional research, the team of six decided that they could send a beacon signal utilizing one or more of the three antennae in most smartphones: cellular data connection, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.

Key Features of iRescue:

  • Message sent with your location to your friends and family if you need help. (when cell towers are active)
  • Remote activation of your emergency beacon if you have been incapacitated. (when cell towers are active)
  • Amber Alert tracking – find location and direction of travel when someone has been abducted.
  • Determine the exact location of an injured person who is within 250 feet of the searcher, utilizing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when cell towers are unavailable
  • Notification of emergency personnel of your allergies, prescription medications, blood type, and other medical issues.

The boys also entered into an arrangement with FEMA to broadcast Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEA, through the IPAWS system. This will allow automated activation of the iRescue beacon if you are in a danger zone.

The boys received an invitation to present iRescue at the annual meeting of the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association. Their presentation was a hit with the group, and they pledged their support to promote iRescue to every Fire Chief in the country. "Seeing the boys presentation, and then talking with them about this, it is an obvious contribution to current methods of search and recuse efforts across the state," said Ted Kunze President of the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association. Oregon State Police Superintendent Richard Evans Jr. was also at the meeting, and set-up a presentation with Oregon State Police Foundation and philanthropist Gerry Frank who was so impressed, and in awe of the boys application that the OSP Foundation was the first to make a donation to make the boys app become a reality.

All three platforms support multiple languages, and has translations for several languages.

If you want to translate iRescue into your language, you will need to contact the company and get a downloaded Excel file, and 50 downloads of iRescue for your friends. However, you must be a native speaker as there are no machine translations allowed.

So far the app will be available for use in the following languages: English, Chinese, French, Hindi, and Spanish.

The Android version of iRescue is complete, and the boys are still working to finish the Apple iOS app, and getting other version out on the market.

If you would like to throw your support behind the boys and iRescue: visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/2040502215/irescue-you-could-save-a-life-what-could-be-cooler

Video by Salem-News.com's Jerry Freeman of the boys presentation to the Canby Rotary Club:





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