Breathe easy as you dive a bit deeper with the STEPDive SCUBA system

The beauty of SCUBA diving is undeniable — an underwater world full of wondrous, and oftentimes strange, environments and creatures that never fail to capture the imagination of any diver. The problem lies in actually getting to the point where the experience can be enjoyed as the complexity and heavy equipment involved with SCUBA diving has a way of scaring off newcomers.

patent-claimedTo help, the team at SnorkelDive Innovations designed the STEPDive, a lightweight and highly portable diving system for new and advanced users alike. The system is comprised of three parts: a base station raft that holds an oxygen tank and sports a deck and cargo net to hold gear, a floating depth control unit and a range control clip that controls how far an attached diver can go. Together, the system allows for a step-by-step SCUBA learning experience that eases newcomers into basic diving techniques and good habits and allows advanced divers to go along.


AirBuddy makes diving experience a tankless job

The wonders below the surface of the sea are incredible sights, a glimpse to a world that is as unknown and alien as the galaxies that surround the planet. With so much to discover underneath the waves, the last thing anyone wants to do is spend time lugging around heavy scuba tanks and other equipment. Ultimately, more time is spent preparing for a dive than actually diving in most cases.

The team behind AirBuddy wants to make the entire diving experience more lightweight. To do this, its portable diving system ditches bulky tanks in favor of a surface-supplied diving approach (SSBA) reminiscent of old diving suit that used tubes to connect to boats that supplied oxygen. The AirBuddy concept is the same, but rather than deliver oxygen from a boat, it does so from an small air compressor that floats on the water’s surface.


Triton lets you breathe underwater like Aquaman, ignore small talk with fish

editors-choiceWitnessing the aquatic nature underneath lapping island waves is an activity imbued with wonder. But while it’s easy to marvel wonder at the unique, vibrant underwater life teeming below, it can be a little uncomfortable having to wear huge tanks with a limited supply of oxygen to explore.

Way back when, Sean Connery’s 007 was given the solution to this problem in the form of a small device that could be worn underwater to breathe normally while swimming. Now, that device is actually here. Titled the Triton, the lightweight re-breather allows anyone from snorkelers to lifeguards to breathe underwater without any addition equipment. A clever implementation of technology works to make this happen, with the device’s microporous hollow fiber keeping out water molecules while still letting in oxygen.

Aquatics Imaging

Video Diving System lets divers safely record wonders under the sea

Scuba diving is one of those sports that allow for killer views, like hiking or skydiving. However, unlike other sports, it can be difficult to take photos or record videos underwater.

The Video Diving System is a way for scuba divers to record their underwater adventures safely. This waterproof product consists of a compartment for GoPro, DLSR or smartphone cameras. A stabilizer makes sure that any footage captured is clear, even at night. The System can either be held by its grips on either side of the camera, attached to the diver or placed on a stable surface underwater. For a full list of cameras the Video Diving System is compatible with, check out the Indiegogo campaign.

While this is a product certain to be appreciated by many divers, it’s unclear if the cameras need to be switched on before entering the water and then just left on during the dive. That’s a point the creators may want to address. Still, the Video Diving System seems to have solved the underwater footage problem plaguing many divers. For their own, backers can donate $134 for delivery in August 2015. The funding goal is set for $35,000.


Goumba safety flag alerts boaters to divers, makes a splash in the ocean

Scuba diving is a fun sport filled with wonderment and excitement. However, the proper safety measures must be taken in order to avoid accident. The same goes for boating. When shirking safety responsibilities, people can get hurt.

When divers go underwater, there’s no telling where they may pop up again. That’s why divers use a safety flag. According to the campaign, these flags are abysmal and need an update. That’s why Goumba was created. Goumba is a dive flag or cube with four reflective sides and a light to indicate to boaters that divers lurk beneath the surface.

In addition, Goumba offers boat flags as well. These flags indicate when there is a diver underneath the water from that boat. This product uses a wind turbine so that the flag spins around, but its message is always visible. For either the in-water or on-boat flag, backers will need to donate $129 for delivery in April 2015. Goumba hopes to raise $50,000 on Kickstarter.

With a fun name and innovative design, Goumba will definitely find success with divers and boaters alike. It’s not the coolest product out there, but those who spend a lot of time in the water will appreciate the peace of mind it brings.

Aquatics Safety Wearables

Shunning sharknados, ORCA eliminates the need for a bigger boat

The Premise. Recreational ocean activities are a favorite for many. Whether they’re snorkeling, scuba diving, surf or simply out on the water, people on the coast love to spend their time in the sea. However, sharks are a real concern for those out in the ocean and a shark attack can seriously harm or even kill someone.

The Product. ORCA stands for Ocean Recreation Comfort Apparatus. It is a band worn on the wrist or ankle while in the ocean that emits sound waves mimicking the killer whales that sharks are afraid of. The battery lasts for up to 12 hours and is rechargeable with an included USB cable. ORCA is powerful enough to emit its sound up to 100 feet around the wearer. This wristband is black and gray and looks much like a traditional digital watch. In addition, the sound it emits isn’t actually harmful to sharks or any other marine life.

The Pitch. Cue the dramatic music as ORCA’s video starts off with a surfer afraid of the sharks she may encounter in the water. Of course all is well once she puts on her watch and paddles out to sea. The rest of the video chats with various marine enthusiasts and gets their take on “sharky” situations. All agree that while shark attacks do occur, it’s important to find a peaceful deterrent for attacks rather than kill all the sharks. This Hawaiian product has a high campaign goal of $175,000 in its 38-day run on Kickstarter.

The Perks. ORCA offers two early-bird tiers for the product at $71 and $91 for estimated delivery in February and March 2015 respectively. At the full Kickstarter price, ORCA will cost backers a $97 donation for delivery in March 2015.

The Potential. It is a wonderful notion to use brains instead of brawn in dealing with a problem like this. As explained in the video, sharks are a vital part of the ocean eco-system and killing them off can have drastic consequences for the entire world. ORCA isn’t the first of its kind, but it certainly is the most humane option for shark deterrents. The SharkShield uses electrodes to create an electrical field around the swimmer, but according to its own website, this product causes painful muscle spasms for the shark which is what causes it to swim away. ORCA uses a simple and compassionate way to repel sharks while allowing swimmers to enjoy the ocean and for this reason it is guaranteed a place in the ocean-lover market.


UBA takes snorkeling to a new height, er, depth

The Premise. Nothing quite compares to scuba diving, but it’s not without its challenges. Without a scuba license, underwater enthusiasts are limited to snorkeling. While a fun activity, snorkeling has its limits. It doesn’t allow for diving too far beneath the water’s surface and presents the constant risk of inhaling saltwater water into the tube. Perhaps the solution lies in removing the first two letters from “SCUBA.”

The Product. UBA offers a more evolved and versatile version of the traditional snorkel. The UBA looks like a traditional snorkel, except with a  much more flexible tube that has a red fin attached to the top. Inspired by the anatomy of dolphins, UBA’s floating fin-like apparatus keeps the top of the tube above water no matter what position the diver is in and hides the top of the tube well enough so that water can’t get in. The fin on top also shuts the tube when underwater, giving the diver a little pocket of air for deeper diving. When resurfacing, the tube opens up again automatically. In addition, UBA includes a separate valve that allows for easy water purging if necessary, unlike traditional snorkels that need a big exhalation of air to clear out.

The Pitch. UBA’s Kickstarter campaign isn’t quite as cool as its product. UBA’s creators would benefit from including a better explanation of their product’s different features. The video showcases UBA in action, with swimmers on and below the surface of the water using UBA. UBA hopes to raise $50,000 in its campaign. More information can be found on the product’s Web site.

The Perks. UBA offers several early-bird reward tiers in addition to a regularly priced tier. For $55, $60, $65 (the early-bird prices), or $70 (regular price) backers get a UBA with travel bag from UBA’s first production run. The top tier goes for $1,000 and includes not only a UBA with travel bag, but also a chance to help UBA’s creators test new products as they come out. Estimated delivery is set at May, June, August, September and May 2014 respectively for the reward tiers listed above.

The Potential. There are no other well-known snorkel alternatives quite like UBA. UBA allows for range of motion and other conveniences that a traditional snorkel simply fails to provide. In addition, UBA presents a much cheaper alternative to divers who can’t afford or don’t have the time to get their scuba license. Its flexible tube and unique fin make it a must-have for water enthusiasts in summertime or on vacation.


Off’n’Up makes getting out of your wetsuit as smooth as your wetsuit

The Premise. If you’ve ever tried to get yourself out of a wetsuit after a day at the beach, chances are you know that it’s not quite as easy as it looks. It’s an awkward task to take on, especially when you get down to the legs of the suit. For those who spend a lot of time in the water, this can be a nuisance standing between you and the next part of your fun day outdoors.

The Product. Laura Taylor of Galway, Ireland has created what she’s calling the world’s first patented wetsuit removal tool, and while it’s not the most attractive-looking thing in the world, it appears to work quite well. Essentially a foot long metal “gripper” with a plastic handle and head, the Off’n’Up works by running the shoehorn-like product against your leg, during which the plastic piece grabs the wetsuit material and pulls it down to your feet. The project’s campaign page states that there’s no other product like it on the market, and it is indeed hard to find anything similar out there. It not only lets you remove the wetsuit efficiently, but while standing. And as a bonus, it can also double as a hanger for the wetsuit.

The Pitch. The campaign video starts off by having a young man flail around on the ground demonstrating just how difficult it is to get out of a wetsuit after being in the water. This is followed by the company’s founder speaking about the history of the product. The description accurately walks the viewer through how to use the product, but the tone fails to really capture much excitement associated not only with the fun activities one can engage in while in a wetsuit, but the opportunity to get on with things after one is out of one.

The Perks. Early adopters of the Off’n’Up can do so for an entry price of $50 (the prototypes will be shipping in July). Considering that the Off’n’Up may find daily use with some people, the price itself is manageable, if a bit high. For those who only wear a wetsuit on occasion, however, it’s difficult to justify making such a purchase. Other perks (guided adventures with the founder, for example) are offered at much higher prices, with a five-day Ireland adventure for 2 clocking in at just under $900.

The Potential. There’s really nothing out on the market that serves the same purpose as the Off’n’Up, but it’s a bit pricey for such a limited-use product. Even among those who wear wetsuits often enough to find a strong need for it would likely find it an awkward implement to bring along. A collapsible version, though, would be a more compelling option for separating a wetsuit — and some funds — from a prospective buyer.

Apparel Aquatics

Ripflip bridges fin-to-foot evolution in one piece of footwear

The Premise. For avid outdoorsy types and those who work in nature environments, the transition between land and water can be cumbersome. Very few products actually allow a person to transition between streamlined movement in a land environment to a water environment, and footwear choices are even more limited.

The Product. The Ripflip seeks to foil flipper floundering by providing a comfortable, functional shoe and flipper combination. It is essentially a neoprene shoe with some tread and a short flipper attached to it. It has a heel strap for easily putting it on or taking it off,, a midsole for comfort and a sole that provides traction on a variety of surfaces.

The Pitch. The video was obviously shot by a professional and has a really comprehensive view of the product. It’s filled with shots of the product, including close-ups of the tread (designed by a large tread-making company), and shots of the RipFlip in aspirational action that may tip off some of the product’s compromises. For example, the video shows people rock climbing, but how do they know where they’re climbing with three or so inches of flipper hitting the rock before their foot? And how does such a small fin really increase a swimmer’s propulsion?

The Perks. This product offers a sort of hybrid shoe that would definitely protect your feet in a variety of environments and might help you swim around a bit. The tread on the shoe would help the user walk in water, for sure.  In terms of the campaign, you need to donate $90 before you get a prototype of the product.

The Potential. This product seems cool at first, but it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. How well can you really walk in these? Even the models seem to be moving their feet unnaturally.  If you wear these outside, but not in the water, what happens when your feet sweat? How would this product function from cold water to cold air? The Rip Flip may leave many unanswered questions, but would be good fit for scenarios such as beach lifeguarding or camping near a lake.