In the Pacific Northwest, we're familiar with smoky summer skies and the anguish caused by forest fires. The Lite Devices Team from Portland State University set out to do something about it.
Inspired by the Columbia Gorge fire and its aftermath two years ago, Seth Rohrbach, Kai Brooks and Mikhail Mayers connected through a computer science class project and came up with the idea for a network of sensors that would help detect forest fires before they get out of control.
Read on to learn more about how they met the challenge to deliver environmental and economic impact, how they plan to deploy it, and why they find Archimedes of Syracuse inspiring.
What is your invention?
Lite Devices developed a distributed wildfire detection system to provide our customers with real-time data and analytics for the detection of wildfires.
Where did you get the inspiration for your invention idea?
We were initially inspired to build our product in the aftermath of the wildfire in the Columbia Gorge. We asked ourselves: What can we do to improve a largely unserviced market, while also having a positive economic and environmental impact?
As you prepare to pitch your invention to judges, what are you most excited about sharing?
We are most excited about the opportunity to effect change in the way wildfires are detected. We pursued this purpose for the positive environmental impact our product offers.
Who are your invention heroes?
One of our inspiring inventors was Archimedes of Syracuse, for his impactful work in more efficient water delivery systems, allowing small towns easier access to drinkable water.
Tell us about your team. How did you connect with one another and how do you work together?
Our group initially connected through class projects and a desire to create something to improve the world.
What is the most important thing you want the judges to understand about your invention — what will set you apart from the competition?
We work with customers that create the most significant environmental and preservation opportunities. From the beginning, we moved away from simple, ‘hobbyist’ products, and instead developed our product for the diverse needs of institutional customers. We source high-performance electronics for the detection systems and run our software back end on AWS, allowing for powerful detection capabilities and integrable software. This allows us to focus on the markets that will create the most substantial positive impact.