Frequently Asked Questions

Snøg Avalanche Buddy Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does Snøg Avalanche Buddy work?

Snøg Avalanche Buddy works with Wifi technology. A technology that is already used in the most sophisticated avalanche beacons for data transmission. We use Wifi via its signal strength changes to track a beacon. Wifi signals penetrate easily through snow, rocks, dirt, so it is perfectly usable as a beacon.

  • What is the maximum range of Snøg Avalanche Buddy?

During extensive testing, we noticed a maximum range of around 50m, while buried under snow. Bigger ranges might be possible but shorter ranges as well. It all depends on local surroundings and elements. In Some tests we even succeeded the range of modern beacons

  • Does Snøg Avalanche Buddy use internet connection or other communication tools like 3G, Bluetooth, GPS or even GSM (phone)?

No! Snøg avalanche buddy does not use any of such communication tools. It turns off mobile data to transform your smart phone into a more dedicated device. And to make it battery friendly.

  • Is Snøg Avalanche Buddy easy to use?

Yes! But you’ll need to train the search strategies, described here. Without training your search is likely to fail!

  • Can Snøg Avalanche Buddy accidentally, unnoticed and easily turn off? 

No generally not, we make the application run in the background. We make it very hard for a user to kill the application. You’ll need a special task killer to quit the application. If you want to stop hotspot function, switch to receiving and in the settings tab of your phone switch off Wifi.

  • Did you guys test Snøg Avalanche Buddy?

Yes! We tested Snøg Avalanche Buddy more than 80 times in various search situations in different conditions and snow types. The deepest snow test was around 2 meters deep. The software and battery performances are tested 100s of times. Tests are sometimes done on a daily bases for months. The result: the application perfomed excellent. And we keep on testing.

  • Am i able to call emergency in case GSM is turned off because of the use of Snøg Avalanche Buddy?

Yes! GSM phone functionality is unaffected by Snøg. But we turn 3G off in 3.x

  • Does Snøg avalanche buddy interfere with common beacons?

No, we think it doesn’t! Not one of our many tests, in transmitting mode, with the use of Wifi in combination with a beacon caused showed a single interference. Snøg Avalanche Buddy has not been subjected to a extensive radio lab test to determine with bigger certainty its interference risk. Other studies support our results. . Some avalanche beacon suppliers today offer beacons within a range of 869.8 MHz-926 MHz data communication link in combination with it’s common signal for data transmission.

Read anything about interference problems with beacons here

  • How can you say that? smartphones are known for it’s interference!

Yes we know that, but that is in a search mode situation!
In sending mode, electronic devices  won’t interfere with a sending 457 Khz beacon. In search mode interference is not likely to occur because it is a situation that is irrelevant. When searching with a common beacon hitting a Wifi target, you will notice interference as soon as you will be in the area of 50cm form the target. But since the target is a Wifi. It won’t detect it anyway, since the systems are incompatible. If searching with Wifi and looking for a beacon, the same thing, it cannot detect the 457 KHz beacon. Interference can only occur, in search mode If searching with both Wifi and a 457 Khz beacon at the same time by the same rescuer in one hand. You don’t keep a Recco search system and an evalanche beacon in search mode in the same hand. That will porbably give interference as well. In general: when searching with 457 Khz beacons keep electronics and other disturbing elements away for at least 50 cm.

Read anything about interference problems with beacons here

  • Is Snøg Avalanche Buddy a certified beacon?

No! Snøg Avalanche Buddy has not been subjected to TÜV tests or ETSI tests. ETSI tests are extreme in a certain way, but not that extreme as one would expect.
ETSI demands a 6 times drop test from 1 meter height on a wooden log off 15cm thick. Any smartphone survives this test. ETSI demands a result where the product still functions, but it allows that the device can be heavily damaged.
We’ve tested extreme temperature tests. Watch our battery tests where we kept a smartphone in full operation for 5 hours in -20C. Initially our smartphone didn’t pass the ETSI test with just 10 min to go!. We now have found out how a smartphone can pass this test easily, we will implement this later in an update.
Immersion tests are easily passed if you use a watertight bag. Same counts for the tension tests as well. Some models already passes these tests without any adjustments.
Conclusion: we are confident that smartphones will pass these ETSI according robustness and extreme surroundings, but after some adjustments.

  • Does Snøg Avalanche Buddy use much battery power?

No! Snøg avalanche buddy uses limited battery power. It lasts for about 13 hours transmitting on a 1400 mAh battery. So more than a skiing day. Li-ion batteries, which every smartphone is equiped with, are the best batteries these days considering performance in harsh conditions. Read more about Li-ion batteries here (PDF, 293 kB), and learn why Nasa uses them as well!

  • Is there an iPhone version available?
    No. Unfortunately, Apple does not allow the use of the technology we use in Snøg Avalanche Buddy.
  • A phone damages easily!

No! Smartphones are designed by thousands of engineers to be as sturdy as possible. Due to its shape and electronics, it’s very hard to damage a phone that much, that the Wifi does not work anymore. This equipment is even used today in industrial situations, because they are cheap, reliable, robust. Besides that they are more powerfull than most industrial electronics available. In most cases only the screen damages, not the electronics. Watch these vids to be convinced:

a phone used as a hammer
a phone being cooked
a phone under water

You may use a (plastic) phone bag to protect you phone better against water and damages.

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