Homegrown Business: Carlyn Loncaric, CEO and Founder of VodaSafe Inc

VodaSafe Inc is a Vancouver business that makes a handheld water rescue device, AquaEye®. We spoke with Carlyn Loncaric, CEO and Founder, to find out more about them.

VodaSafe Inc

What is your business called and what does it do?

We are VodaSafe Inc, and we make a handheld water rescue device that uses sonar and artificial intelligence to locate missing people in the water.

What made you want to do this work?

During university, I worked as a lifeguard and being an engineer I recognized a need for technology to improve the way we searched for people in the water. Waterfront search methods in cloudy water were archaic and slow. If someone went missing you basically grabbed a pair of goggles and tried dive in a grid pattern, hoping to bump into them. I knew modern technology could help us locate people quickly enough to increase the chances of saving their life.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

The problem is the number of drownings that happen each year. We want to make an impact and save lives by locating people quickly enough to rescue them. Many drownings occur close to shore but our murky waters make search and rescue incredibly difficult. It only takes seconds to drown but the search can last for hours. Not only do we want to rescue those in need, but we also want to help keep first responders safe. They risk their lives by working in dangerous scenarios so by reducing the amount of time they are at risk, we are also helping to ensure they stay safe.

Who are your clientele/demographics?

We have sold AquaEyes to fire departments, dive teams, police, sheriffs, search and rescue, lifeguards and summer camps. Basically, any groups that conduct either water rescue or victim recovery. We have over 100 customers in 8 provinces across Canada and 27 states in the US.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

We sell our product and accessories to teams looking to improve their water rescue or victim recovery methods.

AquaEye uses sonar and artificial intelligence to locate missing people in the water. You use the device by scanning across an area up to 50m in radius. AquaEye sends out sonar pulses and then analyzes the sonar echoes that return to the device after they bounce off objects in the water. Using machine learning we have taught the device what the sonar echo from a human body looks like. Once AquaEye has determined that an echo is similar to an echo from a human, it displays the direction and distance of the victim to the user. The user can then rescue or recover the victim with the knowledge of their location.

Where in the city can we find your profession?

We are proud to be located in Vancouver at 7th and Quebec, but interested parties would find a warmer welcome at www.vodasafe.ca

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

How will AquaEye speed up my water rescues or recoveries?

AquaEye is immediately deployable, simply get the device into the water by wading in, reaching from a dock or boat, and begin to scan. You can search a nearly 2-acre area in under 5 minutes. Conventional searches in grid patterns take far longer, and side-scan sonar is slow to deploy and also uses a grid pattern.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part about what we do is help first responders stay safe, by shortening the search timeline. The sooner a search is resolved the sooner they are out of the field and out of harm’s way. The day a life is saved because of AquaEye will be a day we celebrate – we will have met our goal, to impact families by saving lives.

The worst part about working in water rescue is learning of all the stories and tragic losses. Sadly, at this time, AquaEye is more often used for victim recovery, when the teams using the device know that the chances of a live rescue are slim to none. Our technology is still greatly appreciated by our clients because their goal is to provide closure to family and loved ones as soon as possible. AquaEye has been used in 6 victim recoveries over the past two years and we were glad to be able to bring closure to all involved sooner than traditional methods would allow. Our ultimate goal however is to have AquaEyes everywhere to increase the chances of having one in the right place at the right time for rescue.

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

What’s the difference between an introverted and an extroverted engineer?

An introverted engineer looks at their shoes when they’re talking to you, an extroverted engineer looks at your shoes when they’re talking to you.

Where can we follow you?

VodaSafe Inc is on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and on Twitter.