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Waterproof fabric anntena could save people lost at sea


October 3, 2011

A life vest incorporating one of the fabric antennas, being tested in Finland

A life vest incorporating one of the fabric antennas, being tested in Finland

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A patch about the size of the leather name tab on a pair of jeans could save your life one day - should you be stranded at sea, that is. In a project overseen by the European Space Agency (ESA), researchers from Finnish company Patria and the Tampere University of Technology have created a flexible fabric antenna, that can be sewn into life vests. Once activated, that antenna transmits its coordinates to earth-orbiting satellites, that can immediately relay the location to rescue personnel.

The device utilizes the Cospas-Sarsat worldwide search and rescue satellite system, an international project that has been in use since the Cold War. Cospas-Sarsat incorporates satellite-based receivers, that are continuously listening for emergency radio beacons from transmitters on ships, aircraft or people. When a signal is received, it is relayed to a ground receiving station, followed by a mission control center, and then a rescue coordination center.

When sea trials of the antenna were conducted, its location was attained within a matter of minutes.

Not only is the device flexible, lightweight, and wear- and waterproof, but it is also surprisingly small for an antenna that transmits at such low frequencies. Larger antennas are typically required for these frequencies, which are what Cospas-Sarsat is set up to receive.

Along with the life vest-mounted antenna, the ESA project is also developing one that could be attached to a diving vest. The device could perhaps find its way into the high-tech fisherman's gear being developed through the European Safe@Sea project, which is designed to stop a boat's engine when the fisherman falls overboard, and to inflate upon contact with the water.

Previously, wearable antenna technology has been focused more on military applications

Source: Popular Science

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

OK nice antenna but what about the rest of the transmitter?



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