Course Blog

Bioluminescence for wearable rescue device


In the outdoor sports, injury and loss the way occurs frequently, especially at night. The rescue team may need to use long time to find them due to the lack of signal. Therefore, how to send the SOS signal efficiently and how to improve the rescued rate for people is our mission.


night rescue

It will be inconvenient to carry heavy or huge device for hiking or climbing and that is why our team wants to make a wearable rescue device. When user want to send the SOS signal in dangerous conditions, they just need to open the helium cylinder and the huge pressure will deploy the balloon into the air as well as activate the luciferase and Luciferin to make flashing lights for extra visibility at night.

As we know traditional LED/battery assembly is un-durable, and non-waterproof. Another problem is that this assembly can’t continuously lighting for a long time. Problems that mentioned above, will be addressed by following technologies. Different from battery, Luciferase and Luciferin [1] will dormant continuously in the container, unless user opens the helium cylinder and then materials will be activated by the huge pressure. Obviously, comparing with battery, our artifact is more durable. Moreover, the “PURE” system [2] provides the way to produce proteins. Once they are broken by pressure, materials will burst out to help us to extend the lighting time as well as enhance the brightness.

As the designer, I need to ensure the device easy to carry and easy to hold.  In the following week I will working on the model for our prototype and assisting my partner to project the video.



1: The pocket-sized rescue device.

We want to design a dismountable device. For hiking or common outdoor sports, the device has a hook which can be attached on a belt or backpack, the device also has a glow-in-the-dark dark reflective surface to ensure it easy to find at night.For water sport, the device can be installed on the watch or bracelet, because it will be no space for the hook. (sketch 1)

sketch 1

In the second sketch, I want to use soft material such as Silica gel to develop my prototype, in this case the device can be stretched and hooked on backpack. For water sport, the device can be rolled as a watch. (sketch 2/3)

sketch 2

sketch 3


LED light will be used to simulate illuminant in our final video and prototype, I will use Arduino and multiple LEDs to achieve that. There are two potential solutions, the first one is to let LEDs blinking [3] and it is as simple as turning a light on and off. Another solution is controlling LEDs to change colors in specified frequencies [4], for example, one second delay will be used to represent the “S” signal and two seconds delay shows the “o” signal.


  S signal


  O signal



  1. Jones, K.A. et al., 2017. Orthogonal Luciferase-Luciferin Pairs for Bioluminescence Imaging. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 139(6), pp.2351–2358.
  2. Mavelli, F., Marangoni, R. & Stano, P., 2015. A Simple Protein Synthesis Model for the PURE System Operation. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, 77(6), pp.1185–1212.