whats new in tech diving

What’s New in Technical Diving for 2016?

by Jon Kieren:

Each year the world of technical diving seems to progress leaps and bounds.  There is always a lot to keep up with between equipment advances, exploration projects, new educational programs, physiological and scientific research studies, and more.  2016 is no exception, here’s a brief overview of what we have to look forward to.

TEKDiveUSA.2016, Miami, FL  The second biennial US Technical Diving Conference will be held in Miami from April 22nd-24th 2016.  Top shelf exhibitors will be present showing off all of the newest equipment, but the real highlight of this conference is the amazing line-up of presentations and seminars.  Forty hours of seminars and presentations on topics ranging from: the history of technical diving, women in technical diving, the future of technical diving, exploration projects from around the world, scientific studies on decompression strategies, management and molecular medicine and diving, and a wide range of rebreather equipment related topics.  For a complete list of the seminars this year visit the TEKDiveUSA website HERE.  This is an event you do not want to miss if you are interested in what’s happening in the world of technical diving.

Equipment

  • Dive Computers – Ratio iX3M The technical dive computer market has been dominated by very few manufacturers over the past 10 years. Every once in a while a new computer will pop up and try to break the mold.  Very few have been successful, most fade away quickly.  The Ratio iX3M has a real chance to make an impact in this tough market.  It has all of the features of the dominant names but also adds a couple of very cool little gadgets.
    • Vibrating alarms – Technical divers have a tendency to disable audible alarms. However a vibrating alarm that alerts the diver of life threatening emergencies could be a game changer
    • Magnetometer – If you have hot dropped into a wreck from technical depths, you will LOVE this feature. The iX3M can measure the magnetic field of the Earth and its magnetic alterations caused by ferromagnetic metals, like iron.  If you often find yourself drifting across a sandy underwater desert searching for something big and made of iron, this feature is for you.
  • Planning Software – TruDive The desktop decompression software market has remained stale for several years. Aside from mobile dive planning apps becoming widely available, little real innovation has taken place.  TruDive is set to launch sometime in 2016 and takes a different approach to planning rebreather dives, simplifying “time to surface” dive planning based on available bailout gas.
  • Rebreathers – Subgravity Defender and X-CCR – 2016 marks the launch of two new rebreathers from Subgravity. The Defender and X-CCR are both built around the same canister as the HammerHead rebreather and will offer very similar configuration options.  The major updates are in the electronics.  Both units will offer a few great features, such as scrubber duration countdown timers and O2 cell replacement reminders.
    • Defender will run the SG-1 controller (available as an upgrade to existing Hammerheads) and a secondary display of the diver’s choice (Shearwater, OSTC, etc.). The SG-1 electronics use a simplistic approach, with a single rechargeable battery inside the handset which drives the solenoid and HUD.  The secondary display is completely redundant, running off its own power supply.
    • The X-CCR will come standard with a few more advanced features and is available only as a complete unit (not as an upgrade to existing Hammerheads). The head is powered by a redundant power supply located in the head (outside the breathing loop), and incorporates built in hardwired oxygen and diluent supply cylinder monitoring which eliminates the need for SPGs.  It also comes standard with a CO2 sensor and monitor.
  • Exposure Protection – Fourth Element BIOMAP – TheBIOMAP system has been developed to enable measurements to be taken accurately in-store or at dive events, and submitted automatically with a full specification for a dry suit via their new online system including the DRYSUIT DESIGNER, where you can specify your options to create your unique Argonaut.

Exploration

  • Mine Quest – the Mine Quest Project, February 2016, is a continuation of the original exploration sponsored in part by TDI in 2007. The current project goals include providing the Bell Island Heritage Society with detailed documentation of the many artifacts below the surface. In addition, team members will participate in a DAN-sponsored study of decompression stress, and will be collecting water samples and microbiological specimens from the mine for study by scientists at a leading Canadian university.
  • Cave Exploration – There are several extremely active cave exploration groups discovering and surveying cave systems throughout the world. Some of the more notable groups include Karst Underwater Reseach, who focus mainly on exploring and documenting the Florida aquifer; and the ADM Exploration Foundation, who arrange archaeological, scientific, and educational expeditions around the world.  Both of these groups are extremely active, and we suggest finding them on their social media outlets in order to keep up with their ongoing exploration projects.

Education

  • Human Factors in Diving – “Recent research has shown that 44% of SCUBA diving incidents had complacency as a contributory factor, 39% overconfidence, 36% as error in judgment, 33% poor or failure to communicate… these are not technical failures…” Human in the System has developed a course which delivers 9 hours of computer-based simulation and reflective debriefs, combined with 7 hours of theory and diving incident case studies to develop teamwork & cooperation, communications, situational awareness and decision-making skills in the context of diving; thereby improving personal and team performance, and reducing the likelihood of an incident from occurring in the first place.

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