This new beach safety app uses AI to teach swimmers about sea safety

Forget sharks, it’s rip currents that present the biggest danger to beach swimmers. In Australia, around 20 people a year drown in the narrow, fast-flowing, outbound currents, with thousands more saved by lifeguards.

Part of the reason those numbers are so high is because such currents are hard to spot until it’s too late.

In an effort to reduce the danger posed by the hazard, the nation’s Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) organization has teamed up with Samsung to create an innovative smartphone app called Pocket Patrol.

The Android app uses augmented reality (AI) to help beachgoers better understand rip currents, while also pointing out hazards such as submerged rocks and shallow sandbanks.

It works like this: Throughout the day, lifeguards monitor the sea conditions and enter relevant data into the app. Anyone with the app can then access its map to quickly and easily see the location of recently reported hazards. Even better, the app’s AI capability lets users on the beach simply point their handset toward the water to bring up digital signposts on their display indicating the precise location of any dangers in the water.

However, the SLSA is keen to point out that Pocket Patrol is designed to promote surf safety only. In other words, the app “is not a safety or warning device” as its lifeguards are unable to immediately identify all rip currents and keep the app updated on a minute-by-minute basis. Instead, the software is designed to help swimmers learn about how to identify a rip current – something only 30 percent of Australians are currently capable of doing, according to the SLSA.

Pocket Patrol is undergoing trials until the middle of next month, focusing on a section of Queensland’s famous Sunshine Coast.

The SLSA says its goal is to make Pocket Patrol available to lifeguards and beachgoers across all of the nation’s patrolled beaches. In the meantime, it’s created a short 360-degree film (below) showing what it’s like to get stuck in a rip current, with tips on how to get out safely. But as the SLSA itself points out, the video is not for the faint-hearted.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.
Outdoors

Drink what nature provides with the best water purifiers

Looking for reliable water purification? Staying hydrated is important, especially when you are hiking or camping far from civilization. Check out our picks of the best water purifiers for your camp, backpack, or pocket.
Photography

Going somewhere? Capture more than your phone can with the best travel cams

Hitting the road or doing some globetrotting this year? Bring along the right camera to capture those once-in-a-lifetime vacation memories. Here's a list of some of our current favorites.
Outdoors

Cyberfishing Smart Rod Sensor transforms normal fishing rods into data recorders

The Cyberfishing Smart Rod Sensor, on display at CES 2019, upgrades normal fishing rods into smarter versions of themselves. The device will work with a companion app to record data, including fishing hotspots and trophy fish details.
Emerging Tech

Where are they now? A look back at last year’s Top Tech of CES winners

What happened to the 14 prize-winning products we singled out as the coolest things we saw at last year's CES 2018? Join us as we take a look at what the past 12 months has meant for them.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

You may soon be able to summon an autonomous wheelchair like an Uber

At CES 2019, autonomous wheelchair company Whill unveiled its vision for a world in which people can summon its wheelchairs by app, in locations such as museums, airports, and city centers.
Emerging Tech

Furrion’s luxurious smart yacht looks like the perfect vessel for a Bond villain

Forget smart watches and the like: when it comes to the biggest smart technology at CES 2019, the literal answer can be nothing other than the 78-foot, high-tech luxury smart yacht, Adonis.
Emerging Tech

Look forward to your morning commute with one of the best ebikes available

A proper ebike is perfect for commuting or a trek along the trailhead, with most offering pedal assistance and a long-range battery. As more brands offer their own take on this innovative way to get around, it's hard to distinguish the…
Outdoors

Here are all the best rain jackets on the market right now

From high-tech, lightweight shells to modern-looking, waterproof trench coats, check out our list of the best rain jackets built to keep you dry and looking stylish in any season.
Emerging Tech

The best solar chargers for your phone, tablet, and other battery-powered gear

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.
Outdoors

Snooze soundly anywhere you lay your head with the best sleeping bags

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.
Outdoors

Nike’s Adapt BB shoes let you tighten your laces with an iPhone

The new Nike Adapt BB shoe comes with smartphone connectivity that allows the user to tighten the laces using a smartphone while providing the ability to adjust tension throughout the game.