In an age where nearly everything is automated, you would be amazed to see how search and rescue systems are heavily outdated and inefficient. A common example would be how a firefighter rescues fire victims: they put on their heavy equipment and search for as many people as possible. But, there are many issues with the protocols in place for search and rescue. For example, firefighters have no idea where to go search for people and because their ventilation tanks give them a limit of about 15 minutes for each rescue, they are not able to find a lot of people in a short time. Additionally, when the rescuers go inside and come back past the fifteen-minute mark, they are more likely to be exposed to the harmful fumes that increase the likelihood of exposure to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

What makes this issue even more prominent is that the number of firefighters and EMS volunteers has decreased around the world by about 25% in the previous 30 years, but the number of fires reported has increased by 300%. In an era filled with wildfires and natural disasters, it is of high importance to find technological ways to enhance the search and rescue process.

What it does

SeekAR is a device that allows for Emergency Medical Personnel and other rescue services to find and rescue people at a very minimal speed. By tracking their location in a very secure manner, victims will have a glowing marker placed on them that has augmented reality that places them in clear sight. For someone in charge of search and rescue, they are able to easily dispatch their staff to various levels of a building and quickly get as many victims out of a fire or natural disaster.

How we built it

We used ARCore sceneform to detect a plane and then we took the geolocation of the other phones and determined how far the phones are and in which direction. We also made use of Firebase's realtime database to store the location of the other phones and to retrieve the locations of the phones to display their location as an AR object.

Challenges we ran into

Going into this project no members of our team had experience in augmented reality. There was a decent learning curve to AR, but through various YouTube videos and other online tutorials, we managed to successfully implement AR into the app. We also ran into the challenge of inaccuracy in location due to the GPS coordinates not being very precise at close distances, but this could be fixed in the future with higher-end hardware.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are really excited to have incorporated a completely foreign skill, AR, into our hack. The use of this very new technology integrated with search-and-rescue technology for victims felt like the perfect way to combine everything we learned in this one weekend. Drawing inspiration from many medical access workshops, we truly believe we found a creative solution to a difficult problem.

What we learned

As a team of four undergraduate students who did not know each other prior to the hackathon, we learned how to build a successful and effective team, as well as how to pick up certain technological skills. But most importantly, we learned how to ethically create an idea that has a great social reach.

What's next for SeekAR

The goal is to one day have this application preinstalled into phones for emergency-preparedness measures. We aim for this application to save many lives during sudden and unfortunate disasters.

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