SCUBA GADGET BEST IN SHOW: Technolgy Category
Diving Dry has taken on a new meaning with introduction of the new eDiving.us website/diving simulator program. With the look and feel of a flight simulator program the diving simulator lets you eDive sites around the world. These are not just video game renditions of diving, like a flight training simulator, the virtual dive sites are very accurate 3d rendering of the real dive sites.
Currently the program offers sites in southern California but they are working on in other areas. DiveNav, eDiving’s parent company, is currently adding USS Spiegel Grove dive is being added with the collaboration of ScubaBoard, Captain Slates’ Atlantis Dive Center, Conch Republic Divers in Florida.
The eDiving project was launched in 2005 by high tech entrepreneur Alberto Mantovani. The concept was inspired by necessity. Mantovani told ScubaGadget that he was always getting lost while diving and got the idea that he could become a better diver if he had realistic virtual dive maps. Although there are many benefits to his virtual dive application, Alberto first thinks of the program as way to help divers preview their sites in the virtual realm and so that they have a safer and richer experience at the real site. Other benefits certainly include dive training, a preview of dive sites while planning your dive travel, and inspiring non-divers.
The site also has a social networking component. DiveNav demonstrated the multi-player features at the DEMA show and promises the feature to be available in about 30 days. This will allow divers from remote locations to virtually dive together. The business model is advertising driven. We can certainly image that the program will encourage more non-divers to try real diving.
It takes a lot of coordinated resources to map and prep a site. Mantovani said his biggest hurdle is getting dive groups and business to work together. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many dive business worry that any collaboration among competitors will hurt their bottom line. As an editorial comment I agreed and commented that it reminds me of the wine industry before Mondavi came along and showed the Napa wineries how they could all ride a wave of success if they worked together, instead of in vicious competition.
Mantovani, is not deterred. DiveNav is well funded and Mantovani has a very successful track record in the world of business. DiveNav will be showing the program at the DEMA show in Las Vegas at booth 4951.
REVIEW: Although I had a bit of trouble finding the summary page for the controls (Alberto promised some upgrades soon), I was very impressed with our virtual test dive. After an orientation session in a virtual pool, I jumped into a virtual boat dive around Ship Rock at Catalina Island. I took the virtual version of the real dive boat, The Great Escape. Having never been diving at any of the currently available sites, I could not be sure, but the site certainly looked and felt real. I caught myself holding my breath and a bit apprehensive when I descended a too fast. I swear my right ear felt the a little excess pressure when I hit the bottom. After getting use to the controls, I was able to maintain good buoyancy and navigate around the rock. The panel includes a compass and site map if you need to track your location. Also included are all of the normal dive computer features and warnings.
I am defiantly not a video gamer, but I found myself looking forward to more eDives. I want to try some tech dives and practice dives that are beyond my level in the real world. Also the virtual dives certainly inspired me to want to go and dive the real sites. We give this one a must see. NOTE: (the site is www.ediving.us NOT .com)