Drowning is one of the leading preventable causes of death for young children. An emergency-room physician envisioned a device that would dramatically reduce this tragedy in swimming pools.
The envisioned solution consisted of a comfortable, lightweight Pendant that emits radio waves. A nearby Hub monitors that signal. If the strength decreases then the child must be underwater. If underwater for more than a few seconds, the Hub sounds an alarm, alerting others to a potential emergency. The pendants can be quickly recharged on a weatherproof charging station near the swimming pool.
The Pendant, Hub, and charging station were engineered as a holistic system.
- The Pendant needed to be light and comfortable, so integrating the antenna, batteries, LEDs, circuit, and more was a challenge. The device also had to be completely waterproof, yet quickly and easily recharged after a swim.
- The charging station also needed to be waterproof and needed to accommodate several pendants at once. Safety and toughness were important qualities.
- The Hub needed to be designed to reside in a pool environment and required bright, flashing lights and a loudspeaker to sound the alarm.
Porticos addressed each requirement according to difficulty; the hardest challenges first, the easier ones later. Our greatest concerns were:
- The antenna integration, which influenced how consistently the system can detect a submerged pendant.
- Waterproofing of the charging interface without adding bulk, cost, or user complexity.
Porticos was able to evaluate and explore multiple solutions for the antenna and waterproofing challenges. In the end, Porticos recommended an approach that would satisfy all requirements and then proved, through direct measurement, that the approach was sound. The final product was small, light, comfortable, and reliable.