Soldiers trapped in the jungle may need to summon help. To do this they need no radios, no signal flares, no high-tech GPS. They just need a simple (but expensive) balloon.

We can all recognize members of the Special Forces when we see them. They're the ones who walk in slow motion to dramatic music, ideally music inspired by late nineteen eighties power rock. At least that's the way they are in the movies. In the movies, they also come with some excruciatingly cool equipment that lets them do the equivalent of magic. In real life, though, they're just regular-looking people, and they don't want high-tech equipment. What they want, under certain circumstances at least, is a simple yellow-orange balloon.


It turns out a simple, if precisely calculated, solution may be best. If someone is stranded in the jungle, they need to signal for help in a way that's obvious to rescue people looking for them but inconspicuous to anyone searching for them on the ground. Most people's first choice for that would be a radio, but any kind of communications system weighs a person down and requires an often equally-heavy power source. It's a complicated system that may fail if any part is compromised. And as long as there have been radio systems, there have been ways to detect them. A simpler, quicker, and more foolproof way to get the word out is a bright balloon that's durable, light, and hangs just over the tree tops. In places with a thick canopy, that makes it hard to spot by anyone on the ground, but readily visible to anyone in the sky.

The company manufacturing the balloons, BCB International, pairs them with some twine, a lightweight tank of compressed helium, to make heavy-duty balloon that inflates up to the size of eight soccer balls. The price tag for the equipment is just under 300 dollars each, but BCB argues that it will be an easy, effective, and battery-free way to signal for help. Whether its a real option will probably be up to the people heading into the jungle to decide. Still, it's fun to think that, as the world become more and more tech-focused, the best way to mark a rescue site may be the same as the best way to mark a child's birthday party.

Via Discovery News.

Top Image: BCB