The Galileo-SmartLVS hardware (prototype pictured) coupled with the LawinenFon app transforms a smartphone into an avalanche transceiver .
In October of last year, the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) issued a warning about the dangers of relying on smartphone apps that were being marketed as economical alternatives to avalanche transceivers. But a new smartphone app and add-on hardware component could provide an alternative that is not only cheaper than dedicated avalanche transceivers, but also provides additional functionality.
Unlike avalanche apps that rely on the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals emitted from a smartphone, as well as GPS, to help locate a buried avalanche victim, the Galileo-LawinenFon (lawinen is German for avalanche) system being developed by researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) can provide greater accuracy thanks to a piece of hardware called Galileo-SmartLVS that connects to a smartphone via USB.
Packing a 3D magnetic field antenna for picking up signals, an analog-digital converter, a satellite navigation receiver, accelerometers and a reserve battery, the Galileo-SmartLVS turns a smartphone into an avalanche transceiver with the ability to draw on magnetic field signals and the combined signals of the USA's GPS, Europe's Galileo and Russia's GLONASS satellite positioning systems to pinpoint buried avalanche victims.
"Like commonly available avalanche transceivers, the Galileo-LawinenFon has a transmit and search mode," said Holger Schulz, a scientist at Fraunhofer IML. "Unlike previous transceivers however, when looking for victims the system is not restricted to the electromagnetic field formed by a transmitted signal but makes use of satellite signals as well. Since our solution draws on numerous available sensors and satellite systems, the signals transmitted by victims can be located with a great deal of precision. Magnetic field signals are processed in 3D so that we can pinpoint accident victims in a matter of seconds and improve their chances of survival."
Such pinpoint accuracy is a significant advantage over most basic devices that emit only an electromagnetic signal in "send" mode which then requires a search covering a semicircular area along the lines of this magnetic field to find the device. The technique to calculate the exact position of a buried person based on the signals captured by the Galileo-SmartLVS has already been patented by Fraunhofer and proTime, a company that partnered on the project along with Volmer Informationstechnik and the electrical engineering and IT department of Rosenheim University of Applied Sciences.
The system also includes the LawinenFon app that serves as the interface between the Galileo-SmartLVS hardware and the user. The app currently displays the distance and direction to the buried person on the smartphone screen, with the team planning to add the depth at which they are buried in the future. The device's reception range is currently limited to around 30 m (100 ft), but the researchers are working to extend this also.
"There is also the possibility of adding other useful functions to the app such as current snow and weather conditions," says Dipl.-Ing. Wolfgang Inninger, head of the IML project center. "These are extras that standard search devices simply don’t offer."
The researchers have successfully tested a prototype device that was able to locate a buried transceiver with centimeter accuracy and hope to have a commercial device on the market in the next two or three years.
Karton offers recycled cardboard creations for home furniture
cardboard creations for home furniture
By Nick Lavars
February 3, 2014
Aside from the Paperpedic Bed, Karton's range include chests of drawers, TV units, room pa...
Aside from the Paperpedic Bed, Karton's range include chests of drawers, TV units, room partitions and cardboard animals which can be decorated and painted
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It's generally only when its time to pack up and move house that the typical homeowner encounters large quantities of cardboard. In bicycle helmets and vacuum cleaners, however, we have seen some innovative applications for the material beyond its use as lightweight and durable packaging. Karton, a cardboard furniture company offering everything from beds to room dividers, takes a similar approach, yet aims to go beyond the novel and make its paper constructions a charming and practical part of your living solution.
Measuring 203 cm (79 in) in length and 30 cm (12 in) high, the 'Paperpedic' bed is made fr...Each piece of furniture is delivered as a flat-packed paper stack and can be put together ...Wollner says Karton won't be resting on its laurels, with some ideas to expand its range a...
While using recycled cardboard for the kinds of products mentioned above can be innovative and somewhat inspiring, to make them viable on a commercial scale is another matter. This is something Ralph Wollner, Director of the Karton Group, says distinguishes his company from other like-minded vendors of cardboard creations out there.
"There's a number of designers out there who produce one-off pieces," Wollner told Gizmag, "but for small production teams, it is difficult to create products that aren't expensive and still of high-quality."
With offices in Melbourne, Australia, Karton is an online-only store which keeps costs low by sourcing products by designers from all corners of the globe.
"We represent Stange Design, a German company who has been designing and producing cardboard furniture for 30 years," says Wollner. "Sourcing our furniture from here, along with firms in the Netherlands, New Zealand and the Middle East allows us to make our prices realistic."
Wollner's perception of "realistic" appears in step with that of his customers, with the company recently selling its 1,000th "Paperpedic Bed." Measuring 203 cm (79 in) in length and 30 cm (12 in) high, the bed is made from 100 percent recyclable cardboard and, according to the company, can be assembled within minutes.
"I think its attractive because it is versatile, different and challenges tradition," says Wollner of his number one seller.
Each piece of furniture is delivered as a flat-packed paper stack and can be put together without any tools or glue. In addition to the Paperpedic Bed, Karton's range include chests of drawers, TV units, room partitions and even cardboard animals that can be decorated and painted.
Though already boasting an extensive range, Wollner says Karton won't be resting on its laurels, with ideas to expand its offering already in the pipeline.
"In April, we'll be introducing 3D paper wall tiles which can be decorated and customized to create a feature wall," says Wollner. "In May, we'll be bringing in a system for hanging clothes and looking at other wardrobe solutions. We're always exploring possibilities for new products and new ideas."
You can get an idea of the Paperpedic Bed's strength in the video below.