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Pictured is a swimmer in open water.

Loughborough hosts Electronic Lifeguard Design Challenge

Loughborough University is hosting a design competition that hopes to improve water safety for both athletes and recreational swimmers.

Pictured is the Electronic Lifeguard Design Challenge logo.

The ‘Electronic Lifeguard Design Challenge’ requires participants to design a low-cost wearable device that monitors swimmers and can quickly raise the alarm if there is a problem.

Dr Christian DeFeo, a PhD student at Loughborough’s Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, is the driving force behind the challenge, which is being held in collaboration with Texas Instruments, SH2OUT and Youth Sport Trust.

He said: “Safety in the water for athletes and recreational swimmers is still a big problem. According to the Office for National Statistics, 224 people in England and Wales died from accidental drowning in 2015.

“Individuals with chronic conditions such as epilepsy, asthma and diabetes are particularly vulnerable: many are likely to have difficulties in raising the alarm for themselves should a seizure or event occur whilst in the water.”

He continued: “I organised this challenge, with the help of Texas Instruments, Youth Sport Trust and SH2OUT, to address a genuine need: to improve safety in the water.

“I am studying how online communities and challenges of this type can create new and innovative devices and I am grateful to Loughborough University for providing such an environment for innovative research to take place.”

Competition entrants need to incorporate a TI AFE4404 – a device that can monitor heart-rate and other biological changes linked to physical activity – into their design.

The top 10 ideas will be sent the device so they can build their product and be in with a chance of winning the grand prize: up to six 30 minute support sessions with Loughborough University London’s Enterprise team.

The prize aims to help the winner turn their idea into a viable product and, potentially, business venture.

The competition is open to the public. For more information on the Electronic Lifeguard Design Challenge and submission deadline dates visit the dedicated webpage.