A winning SOS call

by Murugesh K Verlachamy

Imagine being a rescuer at ground zero of a natural disaster site and the power lines have been cut. You’re alone in the darkness with little to no reception for your mobile phone. You’re in desperate need of assistance and with each passing minute, your chances of rescuing someone diminishes. What do you do? Well, use the SOS Phone of course!

Designed by three students from the Diploma in Aerospace Electronics, the SOS Phone picked up a gold award at the recently concluded Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Challenge. The icing on the cake? Not only was this TP’s first time participating, but the team also secured a once-in-a-lifetime, fully sponsored, study trip to Airbus’ facility in France.

Jointly organised by Airbus and the Singapore Space and Technology Association, the competition aimed to identify new solutions in the areas of humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations, whilst raising public awareness of space applications.
What were the standout features of the phone? Well, for starters, it possessed the ability to function on two different networks. The first being a local GSM network, and the second a satellite communications network based off signals from Airbus’ very own Zephyr satellite. An essential feature no doubt as rescuers will no longer need to solely rely on local mobile networks for communications.

Other key characteristics included a glow in the dark Braille keypad, LED torchlight, SOS distress signal transmitter, panic siren and buttons which gave voice feedback when pressed. It even had its own website and mobile application!

A truly remarkable invention from our students, we’re pretty sure this Swiss army knife of a phone is going to go a long way in helping disaster relief workers. Great job everyone!