Israeli device seeks to protect swimmers from drowning in pools

Startup unveils a device that ‘scans’ swimmers underwater, sending out alerts when it senses life-threatening situations

An illustration of how the Coral Manta drowning detection system works in a pool. The product has been developed by Israeli startup Coral Detection Systems (YouTube screenshot)
An illustration of how the Coral Manta drowning detection system works in a pool. The product has been developed by Israeli startup Coral Detection Systems (YouTube screenshot)

Israeli startup Coral Detection Systems unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week a product that it says is able to quickly detect drownings in swimming pools and alert rescuers.

The product, Coral Manta, which the company calls “the first of its kind,” is a hexagonal-shaped device — the same shape as the large flattened manta ray fish it’s partly named after — powered by solar panels covering its surface. When positioned at the edge of a swimming pool, the device monitors the pool via a built-in underwater video camera that uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to detect movement.

The device monitors the pool 24/7 and uses artificial intelligence to analyze real-time video captured by the camera. In case of drowning or dangerous circumstances, the device sounds an alarm to alert people in the vicinity to help the victim and simultaneously sends an alert to the pool’s owners via their smartphones.

Immediate response is essential, since four to five minutes without oxygen can cause irreversible brain damage for children, and for adults that time decreases to three to four minute, the company’s website explains. In most cases, when people drown they sink to the bottom quickly, just seconds after they have stopped breathing. Coral Manta is programmed to identify such situations and sets off escalating alarms within seconds, the website says.

The Coral Manta AI-based device developed by Israeli startup Coral Detection Systems is placed on the edge of the pool to detect drowning or distress (Courtesy)

According to the Magen David Adom emergency service, between mid-March and the beginning of September 2018, 51 out of 201 people who were rescued from drowning in Israeli swimming pools and beaches died – including 13 young children.

In September, three-year-old Anael Cohen died, a week after having been pulled out of the swimming pool of her house in Moshav Leitav.

In case of false alarm, users just have to tell Coral Manta to ignore the alert through the smartphone or tablet app.

When the daylight absorbed is not enough to charge the batteries, Coral Manta can be plugged in for a couple of hours to be recharged, the website says.

Coral Manta can be used for both above-ground and in-ground pools, and is meant to substitute for pool alarms that need to be turned off when the pool is not in use as well as other precautionary solutions like pool covers and fences, or devices like wrist bands which need to be worn by every single swimmer, the company’s website explains.

The device’s own sensors and illumination can also be used in the nighttime to see and track swimmers who are underwater.

Coral Manta, priced at almost $2,000, has been tested “in thousands of scenarios simulating drowning events,” in many different types of swimming pools and with both adults and children, according to the company.

The startup was founded in 2015 by CEO Eyal Golan and CTO Tamar Avraham and is named after Coral Sheri, a 11-year-old girl who drowned with her friend Or Koren in the private swimming pool of her house in Savyon, in central Israel, five years ago.

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