When an 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit her native Chile in 2010, Barbarita Lara started tinkering. An engineering student at the time, she was struck by the challenges of communication in the quake’s aftermath: everyone she knew had become dependent on the internet and cell phones, but most networks were down. Along the Chilean coast, 156 people were killed in a tsunami triggered by the quake—in part because they didn’t receive a warning in time.
Eight years later, Lara has a product she thinks can help save lives in the next disaster. Her platform, known by its Spanish acronym SiE, allows smartphone users to receive messages from authorities via encrypted high-frequency audio: a blend of analog and digital technologies designed for use when internet and phone networks aren’t working. The SiE platform, which makes use of existing radio infrastructure, also enables smartphones to message each other using mesh, a radio-enabled wireless ad hoc network. Lara’s invention was inspired by Morse code, which her father, a cryptologist in the Chilean navy, introduced to her when she was a child. “Sometimes the best solution is very simple,” she says.
Emercom, the startup she founded to develop and market the platform, is now in discussions with Chilean disaster management authorities about the prospect of using SiE for future alerts. It’s also in talks with a leading telecom about pre-installing SiE on new cell phones.
8-6-2021 (August 6, 2021) is the Snakiest day of the year and it’s also this year’s CircuitPython Day! The day highlights all things CircuitPython and Python on Hardware. See you there!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.