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January 2007 Vol. 33, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Smart New Products Debut at DEMA

An emphasis on safety and rescue

from the January, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Mariachi bands wailed love songs in Row 300 where the Cancun dive operators clustered. Tiki torches and jungle drumbeats were offered up in the Dive Thailand section. And what DEMA show wouldn’t be complete without babes in crop tops and short shorts? This year, they were at the booth for Exploradores, a flashy new magazine for the “South Florida adventure seeker.”

Besides the sound and flash, a host of promising new products—and a few head-scratchers—debuted at the Dive Equipment and Marketing Association’s annual convention in Orlando last November. Here are a few of interest.

Smarter gear

Dive gear manufacturers focused on updating their BCs and regulators with “smarter” technology to make them easier to wear, use and maintain. AquaLung improves on its BCs with the Sea Quest Pro QD that allows you to simply and intuitively control your ascent and descent by pulling on a lever up and down to surface or dive deeper (suggested retail price of $645;

DeepOutdoors’ D2 Dual Inflation BC is for advanced divers who like the traditional jacket style. It uses two air-cells that provide rear inflation while submerged and, through a new valve system, flow air from the rear to the front air cell, allowing you to stay vertical more easily on the surface. It is also designed to work well for rebreathers. ($875;

This month, Apeks introduces Status, a new technology that lets you know when your regulator is safe to use or needs servicing, like the warning light on a car’s dashboard. Attach it to an air tank before diving; Status checks the range of pressure the first stage is sending to the second stage, and an LCD displays whether the regulator is dive-worthy. (approximately $900; www.apeks.

Attention seekers

At last, safety for divers in the water is getting serious attention. A big trend this year was noise-and-sound emitters to alert dive buddies and rescue teams; you’ll probably see the products below and similar devices soon as mandatory gear on safety-focused liveaboards, such as the Aggressor fleet.

Buddycall is a battery-operated sound-emitting device worn like a watch. It can be heard underwater for greater than 150 feet in radius but only works down to 120 feet. Use a short burst of sound to attract a buddy or leave it on nonstop for hands-free use in an emergency. Inventor Wayne Smith swears the sound does not bother the fish. (

SCUBuzz, also worn like a wristwatch, is a two-way alert system. It offers six individual ID codes — press a button on your SCUBuzz and it will alert a buddy’s SCUBuzz with that ID within a 90-foot radius, making it vibrate and flash. Good for the hearing-impaired or those who just prefer to keep quiet. ($175;

Zeagle’s Quick Deploy Deluxe Signal System, is designed to attract attention above water, and comes in a snug pouch that attaches to the side of a BC. To use, pull a bright red signal tube from the pouch and use your octopus second stage to inflate it via a valve at the bottom. Then take out the steel reel, which unwinds up to 65 feet of line to the surface. Hold on loosely and ascend, where hopefully the search-and-rescue team will have spotted the long red tube sticking out of the water and be waiting for you at the top. ($80; http://zeagle.chainreactionweb. com)

For divers who attract trouble, the Sea Marshall Lost Diver “SOS” Alerting Unit is for you. The small oil-filled ball is worn on a wetsuit or clipped to a BCD and. when pressed, emits a visible light and a homing beacon that goes down to 100 meters underwater. Above surface, it has a range of 7 to 10 miles in good conditions, 1 to 2 miles in adverse conditions. The manufacturer, Marine Rescue Technologies, says SOS allows search authorities to comb a 500-square-mile pattern in just 10 minutes, so you can feel a bit better when that nasty riptide sweeps you away from shore. ($349;

What the heck?

This year’s head-scratchers included the Ear Dryer, a battery-charged unit to prevent swimmer’s ear. Stick it in your ear and warm air dries the area in a minute’s time. We can’t resist “poking” fun at this, since Q-Tips are a far less expensive choice, and no batteries are required. ($99.99;

Spreading the couch-potato movement to the dive community is, a website for divers who want to take classes from the comfort of their own computer. The site offers a range from basic diving classes to expert courses for rebreathers and first aid. Old-timers may scoff at how this makes it even easier for the inexperienced to get certified, but what’s wrong with doing your homework online? After all, it’s not textbook learning that makes for good divers, but what they do in the water. (Classes from $30 to $100;

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