Faro Research Trip

Hello, it’s Aran Dasan here, Chief Engineer at SafetyNet Technologies, along with Steven Ogborne, who is our mechanical design engineer. Together, we are responsible for the development of SafetyNet Tech’s first commercial product: PISCES, which was recently given a massive (and generous!) boost via our crowdfunding campaign.

I’m writing a short update about a trip that Steve and I went on this month. We found ourselves on a research expedition to Faro, Portugal, to visit the Universidade do Algarve’s Dr. Margarida Castro, where we were offered an unusual opportunity…

This is a photo of us from the deck of the Portugese fishing vessel Toni Pirez. We were generously invited to join this ship on a 2 day fishing expedition in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Not knowing if we were going to get seasick or not (we did), we took up this fantastic offer to see first-hand the intense working environment of a medium-sized mechanised fishing vessel.

Why was this important for us? Imagine that you are given the task of designing *something* that could transform fishing for the future. It’s an electronic product, that could be used by thousands of fishermen every day, just like our PISCES lights could be in the future. This is mine and Steve’s task. However, SafetyNet Tech is based in London, in the UK. This makes it essential for us to immerse ourselves in the everyday reality of the fishing fleet, not just in the UK, but all over the world. This allows us to understand the context and environment that our products get used in, which ultimately enables us to empathise more strongly with the people that will end up using our PISCES lights every day. Doing research trips like this, and applying what we learn from them into our design process is a part of the field of ‘human-centered design’. What we learned in Portugal will directly influence how we design PISCES.

During our trip, we spent 48 hours at sea, were followed by 50 seagulls constantly, learned about shrimp trawling, net maintenance, sorting the catch, life on a large (yet cramped) vessel, ate delicious fresh food with the crew, spent a great deal of time on the bridge of the boat and coped with seasickness (despite taking anti-nausea tablets!). Capitão Carlos, his crew and Dr. Castro were extremely generous with us – we hope to be back, with a better command of Portugese and our PISCES prototypes next time!