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Samsung Australia is currently trialling a free augmented reality app called Pocket Patrol in partnership with Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA). The Android app is being piloted for four weeks at Queensland’s Coolum Beach and Alexandra Headland.
While looking at your phone may not seem the most natural beach activity, the app is meant to engage and educate beachgoers about ocean dangers.
It’s not intended to replace lifesavers but it’s simply an education tool to help people become aware of what these hazards look like.”
Many Australians would be hard pressed to identify a rip if they saw one, SLSA estimate two out of three swimmers think they can spot a rip when they can’t.
The South Korean company has built the SLSA a technological tool box to ensure the app reflects current beach conditions. At the beginning of patrol, lifesavers will program the app with any present hazards and they are able to update it throughout the day.
Then visitors, once they have the app downloaded, can visit a signposted beach checkpoint to sync the app with any rips, as programmed by the lifesavers. When looking at the app, the smartphone’s camera will show the actual beach with computer-generated signposts superimposed, as well as facts and strategies to avoid danger.
To add, using the phone’s camera to add information graphics to the real world, the app also uses its GPS, compass and gyroscope to accurately map the user’s location.
The team has also developed a 360 degree virtual reality experience demonstrating what it’s like to get caught in a rip and what to do. It can be viewed on YouTube or through a Samsung Gear VR headset.
Salt water and sand aren’t a perfect pairing for electronics, and it remains to be seen whether beachgoers like the idea of giving up swimming and tanning time to learn more about water conditions. Still, any means to learn more about rips seems a good idea.