More and more sailors are relying on smartphone and tablet applications to do everything from getting weather, plotting courses, and even inventorying their gear. But up until now there has been nothing to replace the tried-and-true marine VHF radio for routine and emergency communications.
Recently, researchers from the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) have developed a waterproof and shockproof smartphone case and software app that enables VHF communications through a mobile phone. The case will also charge the phone’s battery.
The device and its software app allows a smartphone to operate as a marine VHF.
Credit for the idea goes to DIT student Seán Toomey who came up with the idea as a thesis project for his product design degree.
“One of the biggest problems is the risk of sailors having no phone signal if they face distress. But even making a call by phone does not give the same location information a VHF radio can provide to Coast Guard or lifeboat crews,” Toomey said.
Toomey is currently looking for a partner to manufacture the case which he hopes will be a cost-effective alternative to single-purpose VHF handheld radios.