Computer-Aided Lifeguards

By: Joe Hamilton
By: Joe Hamilton

Technology is literally giving lifeguards an extra eye to help save lives. A Naperville YMCA is one of the first facilities in the country to install a computer-aided lifeguard. This system is revolutionizing the way we safeguard our public pools.

It really is an extra set of eyes lifeguards can rely on. They're already challenged to monitor pools with glare, noise and a frenzy of activity and they said that they can always use an extra set of eyes, but they hope it's the most expensive investment they don't have to use.

With the sound of an alarm, lifeguards rush to save a man who is motionless on the bottom of a pool. It only takes seconds for a new vision system to recognize that someone is drowning.

“It gives the lifeguards an extra pair of eyes in order to recognize a person in trouble,” said Joshua Brenner with Poseidon technology.

The system, dubbed Poseidon, works by utilizing a set of digital cameras that sees what is happening above and below the water line. Computers then analyze the images. If it detects that a swimmer has not moved underwater for 10 seconds an alarm sounds, alerting lifeguards to the exact location of the victim.

“This system is a gift. It gives us something to watch our backs when we get distracted or busy,” said YMCA lifeguard Sarah Eikleberry.

And that's why pools around the country are starting to invest in this technology. By being able to differentiate between light objects and human bodies, Posideon is giving facilities a technological edge to safeguard their pools.

“This is a system that doesn't blink, doesn't break and doesn't have a parent to talk to. It’s another way we can protect our swimmers,” said Jennifer Bartles, the assistant executive director of the YMCA.

Now this technology isn't expected to replace lifeguards, but instead give them a state of the art set of eyes where they didn't used to have any.

It does have a pretty hefty price tag, running $70,000 to $80,000 a piece. Local pools like this said that they are aware of the technology, but said before they can even consider it they have to find the money to purchase it.


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