The startup company Smartmedic and a team of researchers of Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), Lithuania developed a smart life-collar prototype which inflates once in contact with water thus keeping the head of its wearer above the surface. Buddy, the Life-Collar can be vital for parents of young children, who are still not confident in water.
Drowning is one of the most often causes of accidental death among small children (1-4 years). Around 5 thousand children drown in Europe every year. This mostly happens in lakes and rivers, and parents' supervision is not always sufficient means of protection.
"Our smart life-collar is working similarly like an airbag in a car. Once the sensor installed into the collar touches the water, it activates the release mechanism, which fully inflates the airbags in 3-4 secons, and they lift the wearer into the surface of the water. The head of the swimmer is kept over the water and he or she cannot drown", says Tadas Juknius, the author of the idea.
The first functioning prototype of Buddy, the Life-Collar was created by Tadas Juknius in Smartmedic company, then PhD student at KTU. Later, working together with researchers of KTU Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Design - Valdas Grigaliūnas and Algis Karpavičius - Juknius developed and improved the prototype.
Buddy, the Life-Collar weighs approximately 120 grams, the weight of a cell phone. It is worn around the neck, and the accessory doesn't restrict movements of a child. It is made from high-tech materials meant for long term usage. Once in water the collar inflates itself in 3 seconds, which is an optimal speed for protecting the child from injuries and being efficient in saving life.
"We have introduced our prototype in international fairs, and received very positive reviews. The next stage is designing a prototype for mass production", says Kristina Judinė, head of the company Smartmedic, which is a commercialization partner of Buddy, the Life-Collar.