Carlyn Loncaric is being recognized for creating AquaEye, a new technology used to help locate people underwater.
Her tool appears to be the first hand-held sonar device that uses artificial intelligence to find people underwater. It increases search times by 87 per cent.
“You put it under the water, you pull the trigger and you can scan the area of a football field in less than two minutes,” said Loncaric, who is from Vancouver.
The tool can revolutionize the work done by rescuers.
Loncaric first came up with the idea while working as a lifeguard during university, where she studied micro-electronics as an engineer. Her two passions connected when she noticed the gap in the technology available.
“I was just really frustrated by the lack of technology to be able to find people quickly in open water,” she said. “It was really just marrying those two ideas together. I wanted to create something that was easy to use and could be deployed in seconds to save lives.”
On average, 338 people die per year in Canada by drowning, according to the Lifesaving Society of Canada.
Her innovative technology landed her a spot as one of the five finalists with Telus’s Stand with Owners program.
“This year, we were really looking for game-changers and business owners who were really doing something different,” said Roi Ross, the senior vice-president and president of small-medium business with Telus.
Thousands of people applied, according to Ross, but Loncaric’s application caught his team’s eye.
“She really stood out to us with her background and her enthusiasm,” Ross said.
She’s been awarded $125,000 for her technology, something she hopes will help get more AquaEyes in the hands of first responders.
“We’re turning hours or days of searching into minutes. It’s a huge game-changer,” she said.