For many people, there’s no better feeling than that of diving into the ocean without a care in the world and swimming with some of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. Some of the views you get when diving are absolutely spectacular and like nothing else, you will ever experience. But, for some people, it’s the thought of having to put on all the gear and lug the equipment around with you that takes some of the fun away and inevitably puts some of them off before they’ve even tried it. However, that could all change very soon.
In 2014, Jeabyun Yeon, a designer from South Korea, Saeed Khademi, a former account, marketing and sale manager and his broter John Khademi, a marketing expert, real-estates agent launched an ambitious project that would allow people to spend up to 45 minutes underwater without ever coming back and, above all, without the unconfortable sub-equipment.
It is a particular respirator, very compact, called Triton. Essentially, Triton would be able to extract oxygen from sea water allowing us to go underwater without cylinders as if we had gills. A dream that is hard to resist.
Indeed, four years after the initial idea, and despite the over $ 800,000 collected on Indiegogo, the enthusiasm around the project has disappeared and even sometimes has been labeled as fraudulent.
This is because the team had several problems in the implementation phase.
In fact theoretically the mechanism of Triton is really possible and perhaps genial. This respirator uses two specialized filters to extract oxygen from water. Allegedly, these filters use microporous hollow fiber, a (real) material comprised of billions of super-small holes that are “smaller than water molecules, so they keep water out and let oxygen in,” according to Triton. From there, a “micro compressor then extracts and stores the oxygen,” allowing users to breathe naturally and remain underwater for about 45 minutes. In theory, this is totally possible. The question is whether or not such a small device would be able to extract enough oxygen to keep a human being alive under water.
One of the most thorough estimates found that the Triton mask would need to filter about 90 liters per minute (about 24 gallons) to keep someone alive under water, and doing so would require a fairly large pump — one that’s far too big to fit inside such a compact mask.
Next is the issue of storing the gas in a chamber – this would require a compressor and battery “order of magnitude more efficient than anything on the market today.Let’s say they’ve managed to crack those two issues the next one is the ability to deliver the oxygen to you in the right amount at the right pressure to be able to breathe. This is possible as we see it in some particolar diving equipment but again, there is no technology on the market right now that can achieve such a feat in such a small design.
Lastly, the company has never provided sufficient evidences to suggest a positive evolution of the product, and even the three founders have always avoided interviews justifying their behavior by not having received any patent that could protect them from any competitors.In this climate of mistrust of the Triton project, the video published by the company with which the respirator was promoted has also been criticized.
In fact on close inspection you can see that it is made up of several short clips where the person seems to be getting progressively more negatively buoyant (probably due to expelling air from their lungs to create the “bubbles” from the device) and no clip ever shows a person underwater for longer than one minute.
There has been no progress in recent years and perhaps the encountered problems by society are impossible to solve.
After a couple of years of inactivity in this industry, it was another company trying to overthrow the world of diving. This is an Australian company founded in 2013 by a group of friends and has taken the same name as the amazing product it is about to launch into the market: Airbuddy. The founders have a lot of “water-love” between them. Managing director Jan Kadlec is a regular diver and marketing manager Lucy Palusovais an underwater enthusiast. Mechanical engineer Juraj Kadlec and manufacturing professional Ivan Maturkanic have a lot of snorkeling experience.
Airbuddy is a small floating electric compressor that can pump air up to a depth of 12 meters (one dispenser) or 6 meters (two dispensers) for 45 minutes. This means that the user – and this is especially true for two users at the same time – always takes a dive abundantly within the so-called safety curve, that is, the time / depth ratio within which you can trace the surface without having to make decompression stages.
The weight of the entire complex (9.5 kg that is up to 75% less than standard diving equipment) and the dimensions (407 x 540 x 315 mm) allow you to carry the AirBuddy in a normal traveling suitcase, which, being not a container under pressure, can be safely carried in the hold of an airplane. Also Airbuddy will be easy to use, just recharge the batteries that power the compressor for about 3.5 hours using a charger similar to that of a laptop.
This system will not replace scuba diving in any form, it won’t offer the same control, precision, and depth you get with scuba diving, it will offer a solution that’s much more convenient and flexible in shallow waters.
In diving all takes time and costs money. So a simple 45min fun dive can easily turn into a half day, $50 activity. AirBuddy was created to eliminate all these hassles.
Currently Airbuddy is still a prototype but has already passed all the tests of functionality and security and the company that in the Kickstarter campaign had claimed $ 169,000 has even raised $ 200,000 in just 22 days and so the release in the market is scheduled for June 2018 (it will be sold at $ 1,600).
In conclusion, to immerse ourselves we still have to rely on the classic uncomfortable cylinders but perhaps this time we are close to a futuristic innovation. We just have to hope it’s the right time.
Let’s hold the breath.