GlobalFixâ¢ iPROJul 18, 2008
ACR Electronics today introduced the GlobalFix™ iPRO, a patented, next generation 406 MHz EPIRB featuring breakthrough technology that makes it the first EPIRB in the world to offer an exclusive Digital Display Screen and Dual GPS capabilities.
The Digital Display provides the user with a variety of important information both during operation and self-test. ACR integrated the Digital Display because the research and development team listened to customer feedback and understood that beacon users could benefit considerably from a digital read out.
When activated, the GlobalFix™ iPRO displays latitude/longitude coordinates on the screen for the user. If the endangered person has another means of communication, the lat/long data can be provided to rescuing parties. The screen can be very helpful during emergencies such as reminding the user of what to do to assure that the distress signal is sent and continues to be sent.
Even under conditions where it is difficult to get a GPS fix, for instance during a severe storm, the 406 MHz signal is always sent and the rescue satellite system will begin to extrapolate the location. Typically, internal GPS coordinates are acquired within the first 100 seconds of activation.
When activated, the Digital Display provides the user with reassuring tips on optimizing the use of the beacon and provides the following functionality during activation:
• It informs the user that the beacon is working
• It informs the user of his/her GPS coordinates
• It informs the user of remaining battery power
• It reinforces to the user the correct deployment of an activated beacon, such as “Leave beacon on until ResQ” and “Do not hold aerial”.
During a self-test, the Digital Display provides information about a self-test, including results of each test (pass/fail) and the final result of all the tests combined. These tests provide status reports on the 406 MHz signal, GPS acquisition and battery power, to name a few. It also advises on appropriate routine actions, like “Send for service”.
The 406 MHz data is sufficient for the satellite to determine the location of an activated beacon. However, the benefit of having GPS coordinates sent along with a 406 MHz emergency signal is that such data enhances the 406 MHz signal and reduces the notification period, from approximately 1 hour to 15 minutes, and initial search radius, from 2.5nm to 100m, (COSPAS-SARSAT data). Thus, the inclusion of GPS coordinates is of significant benefit to the rescuee, as well as SAR organizations.
The Digital Display is housed inside of the GlobalFix™ iPRO top cap. It cannot be touched, bumped, pierced or otherwise damaged by an external force unless the entire EPIRB is destroyed. ACR Electronics has solved the challenge of liquid crystal displays and cold temperature operation. Even if the display were disabled, the EPIRB will still function normally.
The information on the Digital Display is an enhancement for the user, and does not require the user to interact with the beacon in order for it to perform.
The Digital Display lettering is fairly large, so most anyone can read it even without glasses or contact lenses. But if the user cannot read it, once activated, the GlobalFix™ iPRO will function without any other interaction. So, if the user needs to focus attention elsewhere during an emergency, the iPRO will take care of things on its own.
The iPRO is smaller and lighter, which saves a valuable commodity space - on a ship, boat or in a ditch bag. The iPRO relies on efficient and durable LEDs for the LED strobe. This means longer battery life and the ability to withstand shock and vibration. LEDs use notably less energy than a traditional strobe light, but, to the naked eye, there is no discernable difference in the light characteristics. ACR chose the LED technology to further conserve the battery.
The GlobalFix™ iPRO is loaded with high efficiency electronics that offer reliable performance, responsiveness and accuracy. It carries Class 2 batteries, which will allow the beacon to transmit for a minimum of 48 hours at -20ºC (-4ºF). The iPRO is powered by non-hazardous batteries, which eliminate shipping hassles – a real cost savings.
MSRP is anticipated to be $1540 for a Cat I and $1300 for a Cat II.
An EPIRB is a satellite-signaling device of last resort, for use when all other means of self-rescue have been exhausted and where the situation is deemed to be grave and imminent, and the loss of life, limb, eyesight or valuable property will occur without assistance. All beacons must be registered online at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov following purchase. There are no monthly service fees for 406 MHz beacons.
ACR Electronics, Inc. (www.acrelectronics.com), a Cobham plc company, designs and manufactures a complete line of safety and survival products including EPIRBs, PLBs, SSAS, AIS, SARTs and safety accessories. The quality systems of this facility have been registered by UL to the ISO 9001:2000 Series Standards. To focus on this innovative technology, ACR has introduced a dynamic, new “The Science of Survival” theme for its line of marine, outdoor, aviation and military products. Recognized as the world leader in safety and survival technologies, ACR has provided safety equipment to the aviation and marine industries as well as to the military since 1956 and the outdoor industries since 2003.