Oceans of Opportunity

Top Underwater Tech Gadgets to Keep an Eye On in 2016

BLOGICONThis last year has made me enthusiastic to see the future of diving unfold. While there are certainly numerous ‘big’ issues to address, a few seemingly simple innovations, or rather evolutions of terra firma tech to life beneath the waves, have surfaced (or rather made their first descent!).

The following pieces of tech are, in my opinion, those to keep a watchful eye on. This post is not a specific endorsement for any of these products or companies, rather just points to them to illustrate trends worthy of note. However – I’m never one to shy away from product sponsors (wink, wink)!

Anyway, here we go…

1. Nemo Power Tools (https://www.nemopowertools.com)

Just a couple short years ago Nemo began to introduce a line of electric underwater drills, and are now expanding into other popular hand tools such as a hammer drill, grinder, and impact wrench. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you consider that the ‘old way’ of using similar tools required either bulky pneumatic or hydraulics topside, this is a gamer changer. Now it is easier than ever for simple things like repairing a dock, a pool, drilling a coral core, cleaning a prop, and so on to be done by just about anyone. Affording this improved work capability for the masses is going to be a game changer in what we consider feasible and cost-effective underwater.

2. iBubble (http://ibubble.camera/)

With the emerging world of drones, it was only a matter of time that we had one for the life aquatic. The iBubble is proposed to be an autonomous vehicle that basically follows the diver around. With a few programmable functions, the vehicle can video document the dive from different angles and positions. I’ve frequently thought about how nice it would be to have a robotic ‘buddy’ to assist with the dive – be it carrying tools, or just monitoring for safety’s sake. This type of gizmo may well take us down that path. In the future, underwater drones that work synchronously with humans may significantly increase human efficiency, and afford robotics with the balance of human interaction in the undersea environment.

3. Scuba Capsule (http://scubacapsule.com/)

This is big. Just as we’ve taken steps towards minimizing all of our topside widgets in favor of iPhone apps, now we can use the same iPhone to plan and execute our dives, and take geo-located imagery (keyed to dive site). It offers a full function dive computer, and considering that many of us have iPhones, the price point for the capsule isn’t too far off at about $1000. Over time, I can see any number of underwater apps being developed to integrate with this such as marine life ID, survey protocols, integrating sensors for other data gathering, and of course integration with oxygen cells to monitor a rebreather. Having a tried and true operating system that offers a lot of punch puts real computing power in the hands of divers. To think that owning a very basic dive computer 15 years ago was a big deal is pretty amazing. In another 15, we’ll be making voice calls and streaming live feeds from our underwater smart phones!

This is just the beginning. With every step taken to bring the mainstream day-to-day terrestrial tools to the ocean, we’re just one step closer to enabling ‘a new life in the sea’. We’ll know we’re there when the opposite starts occurring – where underwater tech has deep influences on our terrestrial survival, and beyond.

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