An AI-enabled Lifeguard Ecosystem

Project brief

We were given ten weeks to create a design that revolved around one single user. The project required an application of Artificial Intelligence, as well as an emphasis on user interactions. My role in this project comprised of crafting a Vision Video, wire-framing, UI design, poster designs, low-fidelity iterations, and high-fidelity mockups.

Meet May. She is a college student who spends her summers as a Lifeguard on New Smyrna Beach, FL.

the Problem

Lifeguards are responsible for large areas of the beach. Staying alert is a difficult challenge, even for an experienced Lifeguard. In order to prevent emergencies, Lifeguards need to be able to communicate over large distances in an efficient manner. A Lifeguard's awareness and communication are vital when it comes to responding to a life or death situation.


Firstly, a teammate and I conducted secondary research to gain a general understanding of a lifeguard's duties so that we could better interview our user; May.

What did we learn?

Lifeguards must constantly be in contact with dispatch and EMTs via radio communication.

One lifeguard is assigned per tower.

Lifeguards must provide statistics on everything they encounter in a day, which can range from performing a rescue to a jellyfish sting.

All data is recorded and supplied to the Volusia County government.

User Interview

We interviewed May after she finished up her morning training routine on Tybee Island, GA. We asked her questions about her daily routine, her responsibilities as a Lifeguard, and what sorts of equipment she relies on to perform her duties.

When I began to create the journey maps, I noticed that May had an astounding amount of equipment she must use while on watch duty. Much of it revolved around communication, so I saw a strong need to consolidate her forms of communication into one.

I was puzzled to learn about the importance of May keeping her eyes on a distressed civilian during rescue situations. If May loses visual contact with someone in danger, she could lose sight of them completely.

A major pain point I identified was the importance of recording data. Her write-ups are supplied to the county for their mandatory reports, so she needs to record exact details, and when they occurred.

the solution

An Artificially Intelligent Drone and ecosystem that detects and notifies lifeguards of signals of distress. Consolidating equipment, saving time, and saving lives.


An AI-enabled Lifeguard Ecosystem

What is it?

SOTERIA is an ecosystem designed to assist Lifeguards in their day-to-day responsibilities to facilitate the user's attention and focus on what matters most. SOTERIA is comprised of a smartwatch that communicates with an accompanying tablet and drone. The ecosystem replaces the traditional radio, scheduling systems, and equipment. SOTERIA expands a Lifeguard's vision and attention when on post, and makes team management and communication a breeze.

Why is it better?

A Lifeguard on New Smyrna Beach typically works for 8.5 hours a day, staying in charge of 1.2 miles of beach. They are responsible for the lives of all swimmers in their section. Failed rescues have high emotional weight and can effect Lifeguards for years to come.

With SOTERIA, Lifeguards can focus on what matters most; the lives of beachgoers. With current technology, a Lifeguard can become overwhelmed by their responsibilities, and they are limited to their own intellect. the current technology can only do so much, and does not offer much support.

atlas: the smartwatch

ATLAS allows for lifeguards to do what they do best: observe. Lifeguards can be notified and act upon information immediately, saving time and saving lives when they matter most.

Eyes on the water
A single glance at ATLAS is all that should be needed when IRIS identifies a potential threat. To minimize distractions, a Lifeguard can see a live view of IRIS's identified signal of distress, and choose whether to act upon it.

A simple squeeze of the watch face notifies dispatch that a Lifeguard has embarked on a rescue. A second squeeze acts as the last point of visual contact with those being rescued. The watch then sends a GPS signal to be tracked by both IRIS and HAVEN. Voice detection is enabled and begins recording as soon as a rescue initiates, replacing old radios.

Haven: the dispatch hub

HAVEN acts as the central hub for dispatchers. Users can view the live status of IRIS Drones and lifeguards with ATLAS wearables. HAVEN provides users with an informational interface to observe from all perspectives.

Data, visualized
In the event of a rescue, HAVEN notifies dispatch of a rescue initiation and provides them with necessary data points that are critical when reporting information to the County Government.

iris: the AI-enabled drone

With its robust surveillance abilities, IRIS uses Artificial Intelligence to continually scan for signs of danger, giving lifeguards an extra eye in the sky while on duty.

Bird's-eye view
IRIS will notify a guard and will tether to the ATLAS watch via GPS and observe a lifeguard during the entire rescue process. Dispatchers using HAVEN can observe rescues and create reports in real-time. When used to its maximum potential, the ecosystem provides unmatched coverage and data collection in any rescue situation.

how does the ecosystem work together?

soteria vision video