Sci-Tech Systems, the 2008 winner of the GSA Special Topic Prize at the European Satellite Navigation Competition(ESNC), is now in its final stage after successful prototype trials.
The Diver Tracking System, a system using EGNOS positioning accuracy, continuously tracks divers on the surface. Originally developed by Peter Hall and Christine Edwards, both avid sailors, the project’s origins followed a particularly rough sail, which led the two to ask what would have happened if someone went overboard? This in turn launched an ongoing discussion about current safety devices and their limitations. When it became obvious that there was no ideal solution, the project was born.
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“We are both very excited to see development enter this stage,” says Christine. “Initial results showed our system performing better than expected, and we expect the final prototype to become an essential part of every diver’s kit.”
The original idea was to create an emergency device using the technology most sailors already know how to use, in order to eliminate the added stress of having to learn a new system during an emergency situation. The on-board navigation system fits this description, and Peter and Christine used their device with it to create the initial project.
Essential to divers
During development, the two were approached by a number of parties asking if the system could be developed for particular needs. Most of these were divers, and it quickly became apparent that diving was an area where the system could be extremely useful.
As a result, the system changed from an emergency-only system to a constant tracking system, with an alert button a diver can use to attract their boat’s attention. A common concern among divers is that their cover boat will not see or hear them when they surface. The tracking system will help to reduce these concerns, increase diver safety, and make getting to the end of dive quicker and more efficient.
Prolonging divers separation from their boat can result in hypothermia, exposure and even fatality. Knowing exactly where divers are, especially if hurt or in difficulties, is therefore very important, and the EGNOS-enhanced GNSS receiver used in the tracking system gives the best chance of getting accurate diver positions and guiding the cover boat to them.
Although developed with divers in mind, the tracking system can be used for many different Watersports. With its good range and no operational costs, the Sci-Tech tracker is a valuable addition to the water enthusiast’s equipment.
Peter and Christine reached the second phase of the Harwell Launchpad II competition earlier this month, and are looking to raise the matching funds in order to make a few final adjustments to the product, make it cheaper to manufacture and sell, and fund final trials and commercialisation.
EGNOS today, Galileo tomorrow
Sci-Tech takes advantage of EGNOS’ positioning accuracy to within three metres, which enhances the tracking device’s GNSS output to provide correct position data. In the future the Sci-Tech device will be developed to incorporate Galileo.
Christine Edwards, Project Co-Founder
The GSA Special Prize
For six consecutive years the GSA has sponsored the GSA Special Prize for the Most Promising Application Idea for European GNSS. The objective of the prize is to support the development of applications that create demand for EGNOS and Galileo while also providing economic and social benefits. In particular, the GSA is looking for business cases that clearly use positioning as a key enabler and EGNSS as the primary means for positioning.
Past winners include:
Last year’s GSA special prize went to Elecnor Deimos for their Galileo for ARA project, which aims to deploy one of Galileo’s unique and most powerful features – the E5 signal - in an innovative mass market initiative.
2013 winner JOHAN developed a system to provide real-time, precise tracking of athletes using EGNOS and, in the future, Galileo. Athletes wear GNSS devices to track their movements, accelerations and heart rates. The data is transferred wirelessly to the coach’s laptop for analysis.
2012 winner Geko Navsat integrates advanced features of satellite navigation systems, smartphone capabilities and 3D sound technologies to provide the user an augmented acoustic reality without the need for visual or oral instructions. This is particularly helpful to those with visual impairments or when one is operating in an area of restricted visibility.
With unmanned aircraft such as drones becoming increasingly common, 2011 winner UAVTCAS continues to make waves. Its Mini-UAV Traffic Collision Avoidance System uses GPS and EGNOS to allow UAVs to navigate safely in a controlled airspace.
The 2009 winner, Nogago, is an outdoor navigation system providing the functionality of stand-alone outdoor navigation systems. It connects to the internal GPS of a smartphone to track your travels, speed and distance – making it a popular training tool for running, hiking and cycling. Today, it offers an all-in-one solution for hikers and bikers via an Android and Blackberry capable application.
Wikitude Drive, the world’s first fully-functional mobile augmented reality (AR) navigation system with global maps, was the 2010 winner. The light-weight turn-by-turn navigation system uses AR to draw driving instructions directly into a smartphone’s live video stream. Today, the company has launched version 3.3, along with an app designed for use with the all-new Google Glass.
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