Student’s invention turns smartphone into VHF radio

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Being in trouble offshore without a cellphone signal might no longer be an issue, thanks to an Irish-designed case that allows a phone to become a VHF radio.

Seán Toomey, 23, came up with the idea for his waterproof VHF Casemate last year as a thesis project for his product design degree at Dublin Institute of Technology, according to a report by the Irish Examiner. He is hoping to find a partner firm to put it into production.

“More people are now relying on phones in case they have an emergency, but I spoke to a few people at the [Royal National Lifeboat Institution] in Dún Laoghaire. They said it was a problem in some cases they responded to, where people had tried unsuccessfully to raise the alarm using mobile phones,” the Dubliner told the newspaper.

Although there are many waterproof phone cases on the market, Toomey’s design also includes the electronics that enable VHF radio communication, which are not found in smartphones. By sliding the phone into the case and connecting it to a built-in connector — which also doubles as a charger — the user has a VHF radio that can be activated very simply through a phone app.

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