Summer! Finally – you’re either in the big defrost or kicking into higher heat. And it’s time to relax and enjoy the warmer weather. But summer can bring challenges, too. Fortunately, modern inventors never fail to offer solutions. We’ve found a few innovative technologies to help you safely make it to autumn.
On the Road
Heading out for vacation? Despite all of the safety technology built into your vehicle (here’s a list of a dozen available vehicle safety features), your own brain is your greatest threat. You are likely easily distracted by pings, buzzes, and lights coming from your mobile phone. Distracted driving could be your greatest road danger this summer. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) identifies that personal electronic devices are “particularly concerning because drivers spend more time on these devices than on other distracting activities” such as conversations, music systems, and kids. The problem is that, even if you are not texting or scrolling, your mind is somewhere other than the road. “Crashes involving handsfree devices and this form of cognitive distraction” are too common.
Whether you are loading the family up for a long trip or making morning runs to day camp with the kids, consider activating a cell phone blocking technology. It’s as easy as setting up an app or downloading a service from your provider.
As the problem of distracted driving grows, the research and development into solutions is ongoing. Published in March of this year, patent US10231091 Safe driving monitoring system describes a system that, after identifying an instance of distracted driving through a smartphone application “renders summary and detail reports of driving scores and distracted driving events to concerned parties including insurance companies, fleet managers, vehicle owners and the parents/guardians of teenaged drivers.” This approach takes a step beyond notifying the driver of unsafe practices to include a network of people, and variable consequences, in the effort to extinguish distracted driving.
The National Safety Council provides an overview of solutions in the online article, Technologies Can Reduce Cell Phone Distracted Driving (2019). This includes links to providers.
In the Woods
And the walking paths. And the fields. And the backyard. Those creepy, sneaky, hungry ticks are there. They like you, your kids, and your dogs. In all parts of the United States, tick-borne diseases are increasing. The warmer weather gets everybody moving (and not even that warm – some of these buggers wake up as soon as the temperature is above freezing). Many different species of ticks pose a threat, but all share a modus operandi: hang out on a (relatively) tall bit of foliage, wait for a host to brush past, and hitch a ride on contact. Most start low and work their way up.
So, do you have to resort to spraying yourself with chemicals to battle the little beasties? Permethrin is the preferred agent, but you do not have to coat your skin with it. In fact, it dissipates after about 15 minutes, so the efficacy might be questionable.
You have an alternative. Innovative clothing manufacturers have introduced permethrin into fibers, creating repellent weaves for shirts, socks, and pants. Insect-deterring textiles have been under development for years. Patent US6030697 Method of impregnating garments with an insecticide was published in 2000. Studies are still underway to determine how well and for how long long-lasting permethrin-impregnated (LLPI) clothing protects against ticks and fleas, but this offers an alternative or perhaps a supplement to repellent sprays.
For more products to ward of ticks so you can enjoy the outdoors, see The Most Effective Tick Repellents for Humans (and Dogs), According to Science (2019).
On the Water
Are you shoving off for some time on the ocean or lake? Are your navigation skills sharp? On land, we rely on our Global Positioning System technologies in our vehicles and in our pockets to get us to our destinations. The dry topography and associated roadways are well mapped. Marine GPS navigation is just catching up. It’s not new, but it is getting better.
Tubing and water-skiing with the family, fishing with friends, or taking a relaxing sail could all go drastically wrong with a slight miscalculation. The advancements in Marine GPSs do their best to keep you from being lost on the waterway. Multifunction displays (MFDs) and liquid crystal display (LCD) color screens offer usability for a range of experience levels. Marine GPSs use electronic compasses and offer coastal maps. Wide Area Augmentation Systems (WAAS) increase accuracy; tracking and positioning are accurate up to a few feet. (Read more about available nautical GPSs.)
Another advancement, patent US10179633 Apparatus and methods for routing presents technology for automatically developing safe routes based on the vessel’s characteristics and the physical surroundings. The abstract introduces, “An electronic navigational system may automatically develop nautical routes, may retrieve previously-developed nautical routes, or may combine previously developed route(s) or route segment(s) with an automatically developed route or route segment(s).” This system gathers information from “radios, radar systems, cameras, global positioning system (GPS) transponders, SONAR systems, and other sensors” to develop, suggest, and store nautical directions between points. Although the patent claims don’t define it, this system hints of machine learning technology, which could continue to increase your levels of summertime well-being.
In Your Backyard
As much as you don’t want alerts distracting you in the car, you do want alerts at the poolside. You know that accidental drownings are devastatingly fast and too frequent. Nothing can replace a vigilant eye on the pool and swimmers, but technology can expand your safety measures.
Pool alarms can be stationary and affixed to the side of the pool, or floating. The stationary units monitor for changes in water pressure, which indicate the presence of an object or person. Water displacement triggers the floating alarms. Wearable technology detects submersion; if your kid is wearing the monitor and jumps in the pool, then you will know it. Each of these systems has pros and cons.
Patent application US20190087548 Safety monitoring system with in-water and above water monitoring devices (2019) devises a fourth type of system. The “network of modular, multitier pool mobile units, that wander around and under water of a swimming pool” not only monitors the environment and accordingly sounds alarms, but also fixes detected problems with cleanliness: “The pool mobile units monitor for safety, emergency and accident related events and undertake appropriate actions to provide care and protection for swimmers, family members and bystanders.” Now, that makes summer safer, cleaner, and easier! The patent is not yet granted, but it might be worth watching for…
Want to find out more about emerging technologies to make your life safer and easier, at any time of year? Do you have problem-solving innovations of your own? Contact IP.com and learn about patent and prior art searching.