Blog: Avalanche Transciever Apps for Smartphones

Friday, October 25, 2013
Brett Kobernik

There are a number of recently released smartphone apps which are designed to make smartphones usable as an avalanche transceiver.

At the current time, we at the UAC do not endorse using any of these apps in place of an avalanche transceiver.  These apps are still in their infancy, they are unregulated and they DO NOT MEET INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS FOR AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVERS.

I personally encourage innovation and perhaps with more prototyping and testing a smartphone avalanche transceiver app may be a viable tool, however, the smartphones themselves seem to present obstacles that will be hard to overcome.  Myself and Bruce briefly tested a prototype app that showed the ability for the phone to somewhat act like an older analog transceiver but by no means would we trust using it in place of an avalanche transceiver at this time.

The Canadian Avalanche Center published a paper with their opinions on the apps, which is below. 

Bottom line:  Get a real avalanche beacon if you want to be found.  Our partners at have a great selection and when you purchase through this link, they donate a portion of the sales price to the Utah Avalanche Center.




Excellent analysis by you and the Canadians, Brett. Thanks.

Great idea in theory, but it sounds like there are some pretty fundamental problems

Pinpoint GPS is not yet a reality, especially in the mountains. I could see a future time when a device like this would work. But for now I think adapting smartphone features into avalanche transceivers would be ideal. Imagine an accelerometer that can alert members of the party that someone has fallen or been swept. And I still wonder why there isn't some sort of alarm feature that can be triggered to give off a loud sound. People smarter than I will come up with future devices that will increase our safety. But until then be smart, have fun and remember nobody gets out of this life alive. Enjoy the ride.

I do understand your point. Pinpoint GPS can't be used as a safe option. There have been attempts made to sell source code to application developers for developing a reliable app and also for adapting smartphone features into avalanche transceivers. I suppose we just have to wait. As T says, enjoy the ride until then.