The development of rip currents at beaches is very common and life-threatening to even the most experienced swimmers. Despite being the primary cause of drownings and lifeguard rescue missions, little research effort has been put into detecting these rip currents. With Deian Stefan and Dave Nummey, I designed a real-time, fault-tolerant and easily deployable solution, the Wireless Shore Observational Safety System (WiSO Safe), to detect rip currents using a wireless sensor network.

We proposed a design for detecting rip currents based on wireless sensor networks (WSNs). The WSN consists of many small and self-powered sensor nodes wirelessly sharing routing and sensor data to monitor water safety in an efficient manner. Along with the challenge of building a fault-tolerant, self-powered and energy-efficient node, the distribution of the nodes in the WSN poses the challenge of shore coverage, scalability (i.e., how many nodes the routing protocol can efficiently support), localization, network dynamics (i.e., network adjusting for dropped/added nodes), ease of deployment, and analysis of multiple sensor information to determine the safety threshold of the water.