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Burpengary students' life-saving BeachMate

Posted: 6am 12 Nov 2021

Students at St Eugene’s College, Burpengary have developed a new beach essential which can help save lives.

BeachMate is a waterproof wristband which tracks a swimmer’s heart rate, location and oxygen levels.

The prototype was devised by the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students Gianna, Isabelle, Jade and Gabrielle for Brisbane Catholic Education’s first STEM MAD (Making a Difference) competition.

It won both the Future STEM Award and the Executive Director Award.

“The dangers of the beach, possibility of drowning and stress on lifesavers drew this team to create a device to assist swimmers and address the large numbers of drownings every year,” St Eugene’s Digital Learning and Resourcing teacher Scott Letts, said.

What BeachMate would show a lifeguard in a tower.
BeachMate warning set to a lifeguard
BeachMate system and an illustration of the wristband.
One of the team building the BeachMate system at St Eugene's
Printing out the BeachMate wristband

Real-time data

Gabrielle said BeachMate would provide real-time location data of all beachgoers as well as oxygen saturation and heart rate monitoring to alert lifeguards of people in distress.

“To test our product, we created a breadboard featuring off-the-shelf components including a GPS sensor, SpO2 sensor for oxygen content, a heartrate sensor, and an SP32 to process the sensors. These would provide communication to the lifeguard tower,” she said.

“We then created a user interface that will make use of the cameras already on beaches, giving lifeguards intel on a person’s levels and whether someone needs priority attention or keeping an eye on.”

As part of the prototype development, the students visited experts for feedback.

Isabelle said they met lifeguards and visited Surfcom to see how BeachMate could connect to technology already available, such as beach cameras and iOS features like the Apple Watch.

Unique solution

“We also consulted with an expert in antenna theory whose feedback helped us develop a system to accurately report location and sensor data back to a lifeguard tower,” she said.

“To create our prototype, we discussed with electrical and computer engineering specialists to assist in the design using computer-aided design software. We then 3D laser-printed the design to create our physical final product.”

Mr Letts said their device is “a unique solution that is about keeping people of all ages and all swimming abilities safe in the surf.”

The students also suggested having devices available for rent, making it accessible to all.

The team will now represent their diocese at the National Catholic Schools STEM MAD Showcase hosted in Melbourne on Tuesday November 16.

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