Avalanche Apps are currently not a good way to replace your avalanche beacon. But, that may change in the future. According to Dale Atkins, American Avalanche Association, these apps may be viable in the coming years.
“These apps have been in the works for maybe three years. I’m sure in a few years we are going to see things we haven’t even thought about.” – Dale Atkins/Outside Magazine
Outside Magazine has an intriguing piece on the direction that Avalanche Apps are headed. Here’s and excerpt of the article:
Transceivers work well, but are costly. Apps may offer a cheaper alternative.
During the 2012-2013 winter season, 24 people died in avalanches in the United States, just shy of the decade-long average of 25. While there are no specific statistics, anecdotal trends suggest just over half of them weren’t wearing an avalanche beacon—a signal-emitting device intended to help rescuers find them under the snow. While excuses vary for why they weren’t wearing the proven prophylaxis, no one doubts that a transceiver’s $300 price tag plays a part.
Enter a new crop of apps designed to turn your smartphone into an avalanche beacon—for free or chump change. Such technology seems like it would be enthusiastically embraced by the avalanche safety community. But not so fast: Some snow-safety veterans are saying the apps could actually make the backcountry less safe.
“A computer and phone is not a precise buried-victim locator,” says Dale Atkins, past president of the American Avalanche Association, echoing the opinion of the avalanche professionals we talked to. “They’re not reliable enough. At least, not yet.”
Martijn Strijbos, a Netherlands-based engineer, disagrees. He and his partner Bart Friederichs designed the free Snog Avalanche Buddy, an Android app, because they believe it will save lives.
“We are not doing it for the money,” Strijbos wrote to Outside. “Our goal is to give people a low-level, entry-beacon option.”
He says he skied in the backcountry without a beacon for years, mainly because of the price. “A smartphone is perfect because everyone already has one,” he says.
Snog is one of three apps on the market right now that claim to turn a smartphone into a searching device, with no need for cell reception. SnoWhere states on its website that it should only be used in-bounds. The Android Snog and Apple-onlyiSis Intelligent Rescue System both promise beacon-like performance.
Read the full article here: