FuGuSense's 'wearable lifeguard.' (courtesy) courtesy
FuGuSense wearable lifeguard

A young Israeli father took matters into his own hands and invented a lifesaving device after his daughter nearly drowned at the age of three.

By Ebin Sandler, United with Israel

“It was the summer of 2016 and we were on vacation up north, swimming in a stream connected to the Jordan River, when my three-year-old daughter’s water wing slipped off and she submerged for 20 or 30 seconds before we saw the bubbles and yanked her out of the water,” explained Eyal Hirak, co-founder of FuguSense, an Israeli company that is pioneering a first-of-its-kind “wearable lifeguard.”

“That really shook me up,” Hirak told United with Israel, “and I began to research drowning in medical journals and other sources and the statistics were staggering as far as how common drowning is.”

“And yet, nothing existed on the market that can actually prevent drowning,” Hirak added.

After reading up on the problem, Hirak called up his lifetime friend Neriya Anaki, a diving expert and former Israeli Navy SEAL with experience in underwater construction, and the two young fathers embarked on a mission to invent a device to stop drowning from happening, even when no one besides the victim is aware of distress.

After extensive research and trial-and-error, Hirak and Anaki created “FuGuSense,” which revolutionizes water safety with advanced wearable technology that inflates automatically.

The two inventors describe FuGuSense as a “wearable autonomous drowning prevention system,” that can be “embedded in any swimsuit.” They chose the word “fugu” because it means blow fish in Japanese.

The device’s technology monitors key vital signs and can actually detect drowning in real-time based on changes in the swimmer’s physiological metrics.

FuGuSense wearable lifeguard

FuGuSense’s ‘wearable lifeguard.’ (courtesy)

When FuGuSense detects drowning, it inflates an integrated airbag that operates as an immediate flotation device, actively saving a drowning person by inflating the swimsuit autonomously and automatically.

“We’ve basically developed the first ever wearable lifeguard,” Hirak explains

The invention could be the difference between life and death because something called the instinctive drowning response (IDR) kicks in when people begin to drown. IDR actually prevents people from saving themselves, which  explains why a whopping 67 percent of children who drown have attended swimming classes, meaning they have skills to swim, but IDR prevents them from taking action.

For existing flotation devices to be deployed, someone has to notice the drowning victim and manually save them. Tragically, children and adults drown each year in the immediate presence of parents and companions who simply fail to pick up the signals that someone is in distress.

Conversely, FuGuSense’s proprietary technology monitors swimmers, detects signs of drowning, and rescues potential drowning victims.

Hirak and Anaki recently demonstrated a prototype of their innovative “wearable lifeguard” technology at the OurCrowd Summit in Jerusalem, the largest equity crowdfunding event ever, which drew 18,000 investors, technologists, and innovators to Israel.

To that end, FuGuSense is preparing to embark on a crowdfunding campaign as it takes the next steps toward bringing its lifesaving technology to market.

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