Everything you need to know about Recco technology

November 27, 2023
Recco technology is a rescue system that is designed to locate people who are buried in avalanches or lost in the outdoors. The system uses a reflector, which is often integrated in ski or snowboard jackets or other outdoor gear, and a detector that is used by search and rescue teams. Learn more about Recco technology and its benefits.
Everything you need to know about Recco technology

Recco meaning

Recco is the brand name of the company that developed the rescue system in 1983. The word Recco doesn’t have a specific meaning, but is said to be derived from the word reflection.

How does the Recco system work?

The system consists of two main components: the Recco detector used by search and rescue teams, and the Recco reflector that is worn by skiers, snowboarders and other outdoor enthusiasts. The reflector is a small, lightweight device that can be integrated into clothing, helmets, or ski equipment. It consists of a diode and an antenna. The diode is not a power source, but resonates in response to a signal sent out by the Recco detector. The detector is a handheld or helicopter-mounted device that emits a radar signal. When the signal encounters the Recco reflector, it bounces back to the detector. This allows rescuers to locate the reflector's position and thus the person wearing it.

Recco clothing

In 1986, Recco was integrated into clothing for the first time. At this point, Recco partners with a number  of leading outdoor brands, including O’Neill, to make people searchable for rescue teams. The Recco system can be found in most of our high-end ski and snowboard jackets, as well in some of our shorts and pants. Besides clothing, other brands incorporate Recco reflectors into ski boots, helmets and climbing equipment.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions about Recco technology

Does Recco work in all conditions?

Recco technology is primarily designed for use in snow conditions. The signals sent by search and rescue teams to locate reflectors are particularly effective in snow-covered environments where avalanches may occur. The technology may not be as effective in other weather conditions or terrains. The signals may not penetrate certain materials or environments as well as they do in snow. The system is not developed for water rescue or for use in areas with dense vegetation.

 Are there any privacy concerns with Recco technology?

Recco operates passively, meaning it does not actively transmit information. As such, the system does not pose significant privacy concerns. And even though the technology involves the potential for location tracking, the privacy risk is minimal, as only search and rescue teams are equipped with Recco detectors, and only use them in emergency situations to detect your approximate location.  

How is Recco maintained and updated?

Recco reflectors, the key components of Recco technology, are passive devices without active electronics. Therefore, they don't require maintenance or updates. Just make sure your Recco reflector maintains in good conditions and remains undamaged.

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