(Formerly the Office of the Chief Scientist and MATIMOP)

Strengthening Search and Rescue Efforts: The PERLOC Personal Locator Beacon

Using satellite network and state-of-the-art utilization of location technologies, Mobit Telecom has developed a life-saving beacon in the size and style of a wristwatch. The company's personal locator beacon – known as PERLOC – transmits emergency messages via the Galileo and Cospas-Sarsat satellite systems to search and rescue centers all over the world. The beacon does much more than your average wristwatch; it could mean the difference between life and death for people in distress.

The start-up company, less than 15-years old, specializes in wireless communications and location technologies that are based on electromagnetic waves. Mobit is harnessing the Galileo Positioning System and the Cospas-Sarsat Satellite System, the international satellite system for search and rescue (SAR), to detect distress signals transmitted through the PERLOC beacon. These distress signals are then directed through ground stations to nearby rescue coordination centers (RCC) run by each country, enabling the safe search and ultimate rescue of individuals facing life-threatening situations. The SAR practice is a well-established tradition in maritime culture and international law.

Whether by Land, Air or Sea . . .

The Cospas-Sarsat Satellite System was originally established by the U.S., Russia, Canada and France in order to locate and rescue individuals, sea vessels and aircraft in distress. Personal locator beacons allow anyone without access to traditional emergency services to send out distress signals in times of need, whether from lifeboats lost at sea or from average hikers who loose their way. The system has been instrumental in the rescue of more than 25,000 people over the last 28 years of operation, according to Mobit CEO Daniel Katz.

“Our principal market is sailors and travelers," explains Katz, "yet PERLOC is useful for any person going outdoors. Our challenge is providing a professional product at an affordable price.”

Weighing in at only 100 grams, the PERLOC beacon is compact, convenient and affordable. The wristwatch style design means that the beacon can be carried directly on a person at all times, accessible no matter the circumstances. Designing such a miniaturized and user-friendly model without compromising the beacon's transmission range of 36,000 kilometers was a challenge Mobit faced head-on.

Galileo Satellites Saving Lives

The beacon's geographical range, coverage areas and response time will be even further enhanced using the forthcoming European Galileo Positioning System, the EU's new global navigation satellite system of which Israel is a partner. Matimop manages Israel's Galileo program, engaging the participation of several Israeli companies.

"While the previous system saved more than 25,000 people during its existence, there are significant gaps in it - both in terms of coverage areas and response time," says Katz, noting that the combination of PERLOC with the Galileo program will fill these gaps perfectly.

Galileo satellites are designed to quickly and accurately detect distress signals anywhere in the world, and are furthermore able to acknowledge the beacon's transmission and notify the person in distress that help is on its way. PERLOC technology also improves detection accuracy, ranging from 125 to just 15 meters away, increasing the chances that rescue teams will quickly locate and save a person in distress – especially in difficult night-time and storm conditions.

It was with help from an R&D grant that Mobit has been able to develop the PERLOC beacon, a project with an estimated market potential of 670 million Euros per year. About one million Euros have been invested in the project to-date.

Project Framework: Galileo
Company: Mobit Telecom
Field: Wireless Communication
Project: Development of a Personal Satellite Locator Beacon