Sydney plus summer equals beach – and we have some of the best in the world. But our bubbling surf also hides a pernicious killer that accounts for a significant number of deaths each year – and it doesn’t have a dorsal fin to reveal its location: a rip. However, UTS student, Maddie King may change that with her invention, Clever GIRL (Global Intelligent Rip Locator), a floating device that can detect a rip and flash a warning light to indicate exactly where.
Rips are strong, fast, return currents that can pull a swimmer out to open sea before they even realise they’ve been caught. (Surfers actually use rips to get out behind the breakers in the same way skiers use chair lifts.) To the untrained eye, rips are very tricky to identify especially from within the water.
King’s invention monitors the water in real time and lights up when a rip is starting to develop. She was inspired to build the device when, working as a pool life guard, she discovered many parents and children did not know what a rip current was.
After much brainstorming, trial and error and steep learning curves, King built her Clever GIRL prototype. One notable feature is that it is powered by wave energy, making it both reliable and sustainable. It still needs more refining before we see it bobbing up and down in the waves of our local beaches, but King’s invention has already featured in a number of news stories and she feels confident it won’t be long before Clever GIRL is holding its own out in the ocean among the other buoys.

Maddie King with her rip detecting device, Clever GIRL.

Leave a Reply