The Electronic Lifeguard Design Challenge

Create a low-cost wearable device that monitors swimmers and can quickly raise the alarm if there’s a problem.

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Contest status

Submissions close in

Ends on June 15, 2018 at 9:00 AM PT

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Grand Prize
Lul logo proposed

Up to 6x 30 minute 1:1 support sessions from Loughborough University London’s Enterprise team, including support to apply for business acceleration programmes run by the University and its partners - which will help the winner turn their idea into a viable product and potentially, business venture. Note: travel and accommodation costs are not covered, however attendance may be virtual.

$1,500 value


Project submissions open:

February 26, 2018 at 9:00 AM PT

Deadline to apply for free devices:

March 23, 2018 at 9:00 AM PT

Project submissions close:

June 15, 2018 at 9:00 AM PT

Winners announced by:

June 29, 2018

Contest brief

Safety in the water for athletes and recreational swimmers is still a big problem: Britain’s Office of National Statistics states that in 2015, 224 people in England and Wales died from accidental drowning. Individuals with chronic conditions such as epilepsy, asthma and diabetes are particularly vulnerable: many are likely to have difficulties in raising the alarm for themselves should a seizure or event occur whilst in the water.

Loughborough University in collaboration with Texas Instruments, SH2OUT, and the Youth Sport Trust want to begin to address this problem via a design challenge, aimed at producing low-cost prototype wearable devices that will potentially improve water safety for both athletes and recreational swimmers. Example applications could include:

A device that monitors GPS coordinates, pulse and / or respiratory rate, and can “guess” when a swimmer is in trouble and raise appropriate alarms.

An application that detects disruptions to an athlete’s swimming pattern and can communicate this to a coach or family member.

A device that can monitor blood sugar levels and thus detect a potential diabetic event and provide an alert to both the swimmer and others.


The AFE4404 is an analog front-end (AFE) for optical bio-sensing applications, such as heart-rate monitoring (HRM) and saturation of peripheral capillary oxygen (SpO2). The device supports three switching light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and a single photodiode. The current from the photodiode is converted into voltage by the transimpedance amplifier (TIA) and digitized using an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). The ADC code can be read out using an I2C interface. The AFE also has a fully-integrated LED driver with a 6-bit current control. The device has a high dynamic range transmit and receive circuitry that helps with the sensing of very small signal levels.


First: Register

  • Start by creating a free account on (or sign-in if already a member)
  • Register for this contest by clicking "Register as a participant"

Second: Apply to win one of 10 AFE4404 units by pitching an idea*

  • Submit your project idea by March 23, 2018 at 09:00 AM PT
  • Click "Apply to receive TI AFE4404" and fill in the template. Tell us what you want to build.
  • We will select the top 10 winners based the originality, quality, and creativity of your idea

Third: Enter to win the grand prizes by building and submitting your project

  • Build your solution.
  • Describe your project. Include plenty of details: What is your idea? How is it innovative?
  • Bonus points: Create a short YouTube video demonstrating the application.
  • Add your project by clicking on "Add my project"
  • Submit your project by June 15, 2018 at 9:00 AM PT

Project submissions should include:

  • Source code
  • Clear project documentation
  • Story and high-quality images
  • Bonus: A link to your YouTube video

The winner will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Viability: could the solution be a mass produced product? Is it low cost?
  • Creativity
  • Story – details of how the project was created, challenges and successes
  • Project Documentation
  • Code – Include working code with helpful comments

* By submitting, you are agreeing to abide by our contest rules.

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