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CENTUM: Beacons that save lives

Sponsored Content | February 23, 2024

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 54 seconds.

This sponsored article was created by Insight magazine, the sponsored content division of MHM Publishing, on behalf of CENTUM.

“How can this happen in a time when everyone has a cell phone?”

It was the early 2010s, and this question nagged at Isaac Ballesteros, partner and chief technology officer of the Spanish innovation firm CENTUM research & technology.

He kept seeing news reports about search-and-rescue (SAR) missions that stretched for hours instead of minutes, as aircrews searched vast geographical areas with only a general sense of where the victims might be.

“How is this so difficult,” he thought. “The technology is right there in their pockets.”

To his technologist’s brain, the solution seemed obvious.

Virtually everyone carried a cell phone with them. Those cell phones had global positioning systems (GPS) and other technology that could serve as emergency beacons.

With the right access and a simple user interface, those cell phones could help SAR crews pinpoint a victim’s location to within about five meters (15 feet). It could save lives, save resources, and vastly improve the efficiency of any SAR mission.

“That’s where our product Lifeseeker was born,” said Hector Estevez, CEO of CENTUM. “It quickly finds missing people through their mobile phones, even in areas with no network coverage.”

The technology behind Lifeseeker is complicated, but the outcomes are simple: In a few minutes, it can find a missing person’s location and lead rescuers directly to them. It’s become a game-changing tool for more than 35 leading SAR operators in North America, Europe and Asia.

“Operators tell us that before Lifeseeker, they used visual search methods. So when the weather is complicated or it’s late at night, or if they’re searching in a forest with lots of tree cover, they can’t see anything,” Estevez said. “With Lifeseeker, it’s much easier. Some operators have even used it to find avalanche victims buried under two meters of snow.”

Since Lifeseeker launched in 2016, it has been adopted by key SAR operators like REGA in Switzerland and the Royal Canadian Air Force, according to CENTUM.

For SAR operators, the company developed a simple interface that can run on any device with a web browser — a laptop, tablet or cell phone — and doesn’t require significant training.

“Lifeseeker’s intuitive interface makes it incredibly easy for operators without technical backgrounds to harness our telecommunications systems. We’re committed to empowering all users to make the most of our technology,” Estevez said. “We would like to underscore that our system’s interface is exceptionally user-friendly, even for operators without a technical background in telecommunications systems. This is significant, as search-and-rescue operators may include firefighters rather than just engineers.”

Estevez also praised Lifeseeker’s front-end for its remarkable ease of use. Lifeseeker can be used on manned aircraft (helicopters and planes) or on unmanned aircraft systems (UAVs or drones). Operators can even carry it in a backpack on the ground.

It also fits well within CENTUM’s larger vision: To fly with purpose, creating high-tech systems that bring real value to the world.

“Our job is to help save lives,” Estevez said. “We know there is a direct correlation between rescue time and survival time, and we know Lifeseeker helps with that. This is what’s important to us as a company.” 

For more information about Lifeseeker and other CENTUM products, visit centum-rt.com.

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