A University of New South Wales student submitted this design and won the James Dyson Award this year. Sounds like an idea that might should come to production.
Longreach is a man-portable system that allows for the rapid conveyance of temporary, water-activated buoyancy devices to a drowning victim’s location. It is designed to allow a victim to remain buoyant while rescue personnel prepare the appropriate response to the situation. The rescue package uses hydrophobic or rapidly expanding foam to provide buoyancy once the package contacts the water. This allows the package to be vastly smaller in size than any currently existing buoyancy device. Equipped with a light for attracting attention the Rescue Package can be propelled over 150m. Longreach is also equipped with Para-Flares for night-time Illumination. Longreach is designed to be simple to manufacture and easy to handle. Ideally used by emergency services personnel or a ship’s crew, Longreach has the potential to significantly reduce the number of drownings at sea.