Check out the description of a real world situation below, shared by the American Society of Engineering Education’s publication “Prism” November 2020 issue. What other situations can this newly engineered technology be used in? Would you modify or improve this technology in any way?
“When Carlyn Loncaric worked as a lifeguard to help pay her way through engineering school at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University, saving swimmers’ lives was often on her mind. Lakes posed extra challenges: A head that failed to resurface quickly meant clearing the area and trying to locate the person using only a pair of goggles, Loncaric explains. ‘With some places in British Columbia, even though the water is clean, you can barely see your fingertips in front of you underwater. It gave me nightmares.’ That inspired her to form her own company, VodaSafe, and develop a handheld, artificial intelligence-enabled sonar device that can scan 85,000 square feet of underwater in just a few minutes. AquaEye looks like a radar gun that displays different forms of life using icons on a screen. The tricky part was developing the algorithm by ‘training in all sorts of environments, collecting data, and slowly teaching our system to identify what is human and what isn’t,’ says Loncaric. ‘The more we work with it, the smarter it’s becoming.’ Rescuers credit the $4700 device with finding a missing swimmer in North Carolina’s Outer Banks this past summer. Before designing AquaEye, Loncaric interviewed firefighters, policy officers, and search-and-rescue teams. They explained that sidescan sonar is very effective but requires considerable time and effort to deploy. As Loncaric puts it, ‘I wanted to develop something extremely simple to operate and keep the features at a minimum’ – a critical factor where mere minutes can determine life or death.”