Purdue Technology Aims For Safe Fireworks Use

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(photo courtesy Purdue University) (photo courtesy Purdue University)
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An associate professor at Purdue University's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering has created a device that allows a person to set off fireworks from a safe distance. Known as ZapSpark, the device uses a companion smartphone app that allows for wireless activation.

ZapSpark was created by Mithuna Thottethodi and features a firing module and single-use igniter cables. Users click in the cables on one end of the firing module and then snap the igniter clip to the firework fuse. Then, using the app, the user can fire up to eight fireworks at once from up to 75 feet away.

"This device is easier to use, more affordable and more compact than other wireless firing systems," said Thottethodi. "Most backyard fireworks users will find remote triggering to be delightful and safe. We leverage the fact that most people carry a smartphone, which is basically a computer with built-in wireless transceivers. This eliminates the need for, and cost of, a dedicated remote controller."

Purdue says the device has no accidental firing and instant shutdown features that prevent the fireworks from being triggered by phone drops or hand slips. Thottethodi says the ZapSpark could help reduce the number of fireworks-related injuries, which killed eight people and injured nearly 13,000 more in the U.S. last year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Thottethodi's team has filed patent applications for the technology and Purdue says they hope to bring ZapSpark to market soon. You can view the device in action in the video below:

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