Seems like every year, a hiker gets horribly lost in the wilderness, prompting an all-out search-and-rescue mission that usually ends happily but always drains the hell out of resources. Media outlets like to describe these hikers as “experienced,” the suggestion being that they aren’t just hapless city slickers who wandered aimlessly into the bushes at night; they knew what they were doing, yet couldn’t compete with the kamikaze forces of Mother Nature. In the Polar Light, Mother Nature (and hapless city slickers) meet their match.
The Polar Light is a gadget conceived of to help mountaineers navigate the Great Outdoors, no matter how inhospitable the conditions. Designed by Ahhaproject, it’s a personal beacon equipped with GPS that can receive signals directly via satellite at high elevation and transfer the data to an iPhone. That means hikers can map a route even when they’re out of cell-phone range — on top of a peak, say, or dangling off the side of a cliff. And they can do it with the device’s light as their guide. Worn like an armband, the Polar Light features six LEDs that cast powerful beams in sleet, fog, snow — you name it. (Ahhaproject’s Jinwoo Han tells Co.Design that the lights could be made out of the same LEDs used in cars.) To direct the beams, users just rotate the gadget around their arm, easy-peasy. It’s like having a flashlight and a sherpa rolled into one.
If a hiker still can’t find his way or maybe suffered some sort of demobilizing injury, the Polar Light will dispatch his geographic coordinates to emergency workers via an iPhone tracking system.
Obviously, the Polar Light isn’t magic. It won’t prevent avalanches or rockslides or any of the other insane stuff that happens out there in the mountains. But it could reduce the wasteful practice of ordering up rescue missions every time a tourist stumbles off the trail. And ultimately, it could save people’s lives.
The Polar Light is in production. We’ll be sure to update the post when it hits the shelves.
[Images courtesy of Ahhaproject with Christian Moser]