When it comes to wearable tech, the first thing that comes to mind for many of us are those ubiquitous health trackers. Fitbits and the knockoffs are saturating the exercise markets (whether they actually work or not is still up in the air) and making people begin to accept the idea of wearable tech to enhance their sporting experience. As manufacturers scramble to design and market more and more wearable devices (hi-def cameras getting smaller) there is one sport that already has the inside track on this burgeoning industry. SCUBA is the ultimate wearable tech sport.
SCUBA is extremely gear intensive. Without the gear, you simply wouldn’t live long underwater. Because you need so much stuff to stay alive, it all has to be ergonomically designed. Translation: it has to be worn on the diver. Thus, diving by its very nature is all about wearable technology. Let’s look at the gear.
The most important part of your diving rig, besides the air tank and regulator, is your suit. Water is a poor conductor of heat, meaning it robs a person’s body heat much quicker than air. Even water in the 70s can be life threatening if you stay in it too long. The risk of hypothermia is real. A suit, either a wet suit or dry suit, is your first line of defense, and can be a real lifesaver. Both dry suits and wet suits are seeing major improvements in design and materials. Some suits have built in heaters, and some are even made with infra-red celliant technology that reflects body heat back to the user. How’s that for high-tech?
Like many examples of wearable tech, fins are designed to enhance your own body’s shape and conform it to that of a fish or other sea-dwelling creature. Fins also have been undergoing a sort of renaissance in design and form, proving that the technology of diving is always evolving.
Like most dive gear, modern tech has brought them into the 21st century. Simple tempered glass masks are pretty nice all by themselves, as they allow you clear vision and comfort—if it fits correctly. Modern masks provide even more. Some are fitted with heads-up displays hooked up to your dive computer showing you a compass heading, air remaining in your tank, depth and other things. Some masks have communication capabilities, and some are fitted with built-in cameras.
With technology ever-shrinking, dive computers have evolved from bulky devices that you had to carry around in suitcase to the sleek and attractive wristwatch design we use today. With such valuable features as decompression plans and heart rate monitoring, it’s just not smart to dive without one.
I would be remiss in this discussion of wearable SCUBA tech if I didn’t mention air tanks, buoyancy compensators, and regulators. All of these devices are worn on the diver, and they all integrate with the human body to enhance its abilities, creating a sort of super human out of an ordinary person. To me, that’s what wearable tech is all about.