Roke's Agitate Life Jacket. Tracking device embedded for those lost. (via Roke)
The prospect of becoming lost while at sea, in the mountains or anywhere for that matter can quickly become a reality as things can and do go wrong when least expected. Trying to use a cellphone in these areas is almost impossible (unless you are lost in a populated city) and time is always a factor especially if you’re injured and in need of expedient medical attention. The UK Company Roke (known for their tracking devices) has developed a small device that emits a radio signal for just such emergencies or for tracking anything you connect it to for that matter. It may be small in dimensions (about the size of a US quarter) but ‘Agitate’ is capable of sending a signal out to around 124 miles (unobstructed) max and 12 miles at a minimum inside cities. The tracking device was designed using two plates with one being metal and the other a charging material. When the Agitate is shaken, it produces electrical energy in the form of induction which in-turn is transformed into a radio signal or pulse. The pulse lasts for only a few nano-seconds but according to Roke, the signal generated is more powerful than those emitted from cellphones. Roke claims that the Agitate is so robust that it can be sewn into clothing and cleaned inside of a washing machine. This makes sense as the potential uses for the device include being used with life jackets in conjunction with built-in ‘man-overboard’ alarm signal systems, remote flood sensing, clothing tags for retail outlets and even in hospitals for patient monitoring.
While Roke has done extensive testing with the Agitate over a 16-mile course with variable terrain, it makes me wonder if those claims are the same as two-way radio systems such as Midland. The company’s two-way radios, such as the GXT2000VP4, are purported to have a range of around 36 miles with increased range in open (free) distances. Those claims are never accurate especially when it comes to variable terrain such as mountains and valleys, not to mention the distance is scaled even on the open ocean where the horizon is set at 10 mile intervals (from your relative position). The claim of 36-mile range gets reduced to about two in the high-country (the Rocky Mountains for example) and close to five on open water. In order to get the purported ranges set by two-way radio companies you need to stand on a relatively flat plain, in perfect weather with a full battery. While Roke’s Agitate may indeed have more power at bursting a radio signal than a cellphone does, their reports of a maximum range of 124 miles should be taken with a grain of salt until it is released on the market where the public can thoroughly test the device. However, the idea demands tireless hours until it is perfected.
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