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23 de October de 2020

Help Flash, the Story of the Invention of the Light that Saves Lives

We’re sure that at some point you’ve caught yourself wondering how a certain invention suddenly emerged on the market and why. Sometimes these are very complex devices, and other times, they’re much simpler, at least in appearance, as they can often be the most difficult to develop efficiently.

That’s the case with Help Flash, which like all inventions, was created to provide an answer to a problem.

Carry on reading to hear from its inventor, Jorge Torre, and how, with analyses, efforts, technical knowledge and a lot of tenacity, he came up with the light that saves lives. 

The problem

Although nowadays you can find Help Flash for sale at several car repair shops, garages and supermarkets, what you may not know is that the original idea behind this innovative signalling system came about to fill a professional need, to do with police emergency lighting and occupational safety

Help Flash’s inventor, a Guardia Civil policeman who at that time had been assigned to a specialised investigation unit, realised that there were problems with the traditional mobile lighting systems used during police emergencies, which in police slang are often called ‘blues and twos’.

These beacons, which must be placed on the roof of the police vehicle in emergencies, are not battery operated and are connected to the vehicle’s power supply through the cigarette lighter with a flexible or curly cable. Because of this feature, the cable could obscure the driver’s vision or get in the way of the steering wheel when going at high speeds. Police also had to drive with the window open, meaning noise and vibrations would interfere with the police telecommunications.

To avoid this, most drivers chose to place the siren on the right side of the vehicle, the least visible in traffic and therefore, the most dangerous. And as if this weren’t enough, often the driver would have to hold the beacon’s plug to the cigarette lighter to stop it from disconnecting while the vehicle was moving quickly.

Another annoyance Jorge Torres noticed happened when connecting the device to the lighter to activate it. The light from the lighter would cause temporary blindness to drivers when it was turned on—and in a critical moment, right before setting off to deal with an emergency. 

Concerned about road and occupational safety, Jorge started to think about how to get rid of the cable from the mobile emergency lights and immediately put his most creative side to work to come up with an alternative.

The solution

Determined to solve this serious issue, Jorge begins designing a new light beacon that works autonomously, without a cable and without the need to activate it with a plug or button, which can’t be activated inside the passenger compartment to avoid temporary blinding. At the same time, it had to be effective once placed in its most obvious and visible place, the vehicle’s roof. Sound familiar? The basis of Help Flash…

Accustomed to the technological challenges of working in a resource-lacking police force like the Guardia Civil, Jorge takes his knowledge of magnetic induction bodies, the fruit of his inventive journey, to design Help Flash’s most well-known feature, , the automatic magnetic activation, which is now a hallmark of all the brand’s devices, making them the easiest-to-use and safest on the market: a magnetic switch that only works on certain metallic surfaces, which only activates the electronic circuit when it’s placed on them, and deactivates it when the device is removed. 

This sensor, together with Lithium-ion technology and the latest innovations in LED lighting, led to the creation of the first professional Help Flash light units. These lights, however, although they represented a technological leap forward in this type of light device, weren’t competitive enough.

 

Why not one light for all drivers?

However, this was only the start of the Help Flash automatic autonomous lights. Their most important purpose, that of saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people on the roads, would come later. 

Torre, well aware of the serious accidents that can happen when cars breakdown on the side of the road, knows the potential of this innovative equipment to improve road safety, but has a more complicated challenge ahead of him: turning his intuitive lights into real signalling instruments that can be used in critical situations, while also getting society to see this new system as an alternative to the inefficient warning triangles, which force the driver to expose themself to oncoming traffic in roadside accidents, causing dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries on the roads

This new challenge was bound to be more important and technically complicated than the police lights, since the new device would not only be a everyday tool, but would also have to be provided with very special characteristics to ensure its effectiveness during its lifespan, with manufacturing costs that would result in a low price for the citizen.  

In addition to being automatic to ensure it would be intuitive to use in stressful situations, it had to include characteristics to fit users’ needs: Lightweight and small so that it could be operated with one hand and easily stowed to reduce danger in the event of an accident. Powered by a simple commercial battery, easy to pick up from any store, but which would also ensure it works after a long period of inactivity as it would be a piece of equipment that, in most cases, would only be used once or twice in its entire lifespan. High-quality materials that withstand adverse weather and don’t deteriorate over time.

 

2016, a key date 

After several trials, with the collaboration of the CTAG and the backing of his business partner Jorge Costas, who was also his colleague in the Guardia Civil, in 2016 Help Flash A Light That Saves Lives was finally released, the first device in the world designed to offer drivers the safety they need in the most difficult situations. A ground-breaking light signal, conceived and designed specifically to improve road safety and to work properly in all circumstances. 

So, now that it has more than five years of existence and you can find similar projects on the market, we’re sure that none of them have the same concern for protection, responsibility and safety as Help Flash and its creator.

 

Help flash is the only signal device designed for the driver to use it without thinking.

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