Snowbound Navigation: Mobile Device Interfaces for Avalanche Rescue

By Jason O. Germany.

Published by The International Journal of Designed Objects

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 4, 2014 $US5.00

Emergency services personnel work in extremely stressful and often dangerous conditions in the pursuit of saving lives—none more so than individuals tasked with mountain rescue in winter conditions. One of the primary incidents these professionals encounter is the rescue of individuals trapped in avalanches. On average, avalanches kill over 146 people each year in Europe and North America, and of the incidents that result in mortality, 60% perish from asphyxia, which is a direct result of the time it takes to both locate and rescue a buried individual. In short, speed to rescue is the primary factor in survival rates for a rescue team. To help aid in the rescue of these buried individuals, various mobile device systems have been utilized with the primary one being that of avalanche transceivers. This paper serves to disseminate research on the practice of mobile device usage in avalanche rescue as well as propose new user interface designs that serve to address the contextual limitations of snow based searches and thus, aim at reducing time for recovery.

Keywords: Avalanche Transceiver, Mobile Devices, Interface Design

The International Journal of Designed Objects, Volume 7, Issue 2, April 2014, pp.17-29. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 4, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 347.755KB)).

Jason O. Germany

Assistant Professor of Product Design, School of Architecture and Allied Arts, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA

Jason O. Germany is an assistant professor of product design in the school of architecture and allied arts at the University of Oregon. Previous to his academic appointment, he received his BS in mechanical engineering from Montana State University. Upon completion of an additional degree in design, Jason went on to work as a senior industrial designer and project leader for nearly a decade before returning to graduate school at the University of Washington to complete his MFA in industrial design. During this time, his work experience has ranged from design firms and action sports to housewares and mobile devices; in each case creating and executing within interdisciplinary groups. As a result, his designs have received numerous patents as well as regional, national, and international awards, including an ID Magazine “Best in Category” and an IDEA “Gold” for consumer products. Professor Germany’s particular research interests include mobile computing, technology adaptation, entrepreneurship, and design methods.