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Purdue professor creates system to launch fireworks from smartphone

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ZapSpark, a device created by a Purdue University professor, allows anyone to set off fireworks from a safe distance. (Photo//Purdue Research Foundation/ Mithuna Thottethodi) ZapSpark, a device created by a Purdue University professor, allows anyone to set off fireworks from a safe distance. (Photo//Purdue Research Foundation/ Mithuna Thottethodi)
Ind. (WPTA 21) -

A Purdue University professor is trying to make launching fireworks safer by allowing people to ignite them from the safety of their smartphone.

The university said Mithuna Thottethodi created the device, called ZapSpark. This device, along with a companion smartphone app, allows people to shoot off fireworks from up to 75 feet away. The device was created to make launching fireworks safer.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports eight people died from fireworks-related injuries in 2017. In Indiana, 238 injuries reported to the Indiana State Department of Health. Rockets, firecrackers and sparklers accounted for nearly half of the reported injuries. Malfunctioning or mishandling of fireworks accounted for 56.7 percent of reported fireworks injury mechanisms.

READ MORE: Avoid injuries this Fourth of July with these fireworks safety tips

“Remote firing devices like ZapSpark may help reduce that number,” Thottethodi said.

The university said the device only requires people to click the single-use igniter cables on one end of the firing module and the other to the fuse. People can launch up to eight fireworks with the app at one time.

“This device is easier to use, more affordable and more compact than other wireless firing systems,” Thottethodi said. "We leverage the fact that most people carry a smartphone, which is basically a computer with built-in wireless transceivers. This eliminates the need for, and cost of, a dedicated remote controller.”

The university boasts the device has “no accidental firing” and “instant shutdown” features that prevent the fireworks from being triggered by phone drops or hand slips. The app also features custom firework sequencing and music synchronization, making it ‘drag-and-drop’ simple for professional-quality celebrations with no special training or professional skills.

The team has patent applications in process for the technology and expects to bring the product to market soon.

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