Here is a summary of what we saw on day four of the 2011 DEMA Show in Orlando, Florida.
- We spoke at length with Elaine Kwee, founder of DiVo, a non-profit environmental organization based in Australia whose aim is to bring more recreational divers to active marine conservation/research participation. Elaine strives to make a difference with the DiVo Voluntourism program, which brings recreational divers together fun, educational conservational programs. We will write a full article on this program. Look for it soon.
- Pandora Underwater Equipment SA is a Swiss startup company that has a product called SUBA (Swiss Underwater Buoyancy Assistant) which is in the running for “oddest product in show.” With a tagline of “cruise control for your diving,” this product is a computer integrated BCD that is designed to manage your buoyancy for you. The representative passionately explained that when this prototype is available it will offer a much safer way to dive and train students. With the touch of a button on the computer, the device will trigger the BCD to vent or fill at a perfect rate to take you to and hold you at the desired depth. You will be able to be program the computer to limit maximum depths for students and young divers. It can also automatically stop a diver’s ascent at a require safety or deco stop. However, the model we saw was only set to manage the air dump from the shoulder valve on the integrated BCD. At times we were hard pressed to keep a straight face, but we must acknowledge that there have been many wild ideas ahead of their time, that later were integrated into valuable products. In any case, we must applaud Pandora for taking a risk in trying to build a paradigm shifting technology such as this.
- We stopped back and re-visited the WiseDive booth to have another look at their 3000 and 5000 lumen modular light system. The return was mostly inspired by a positive comment by a competitor who is well known for criticizing light makers for overstating lumen ratings. He told us that he knows the WiseDive developer and trusts his numbers completely. At the WiseDive booth we learned more about the new product and grew more impressed. We also got a better picture of lumens and lux ratings and are getting closer to being able to complete our article that we hope will help divers understand how to make good choices when purchasing LED dive lights.
- During a visit with Andy and Virginia Lamb (more at http://www.scubagadget.com/?p=1687 ) at the Dive Industry Association of British Columbia (DIABC) booth we discussed an interesting twist on dive travel that may interest dive shops. They work with a voucher system for small groups that come to dive at their Cedar Beach Lodge on Thetis Island, BC, Canada. They give the shop numbered vouchers to sell and then take a percentage. Andy and Virginia handle the rest. There is no need to pre-sell a large group or send a shop staff or dive master. It is a great option that allows shops to offer shop customers extra trips without any of the usual organizational work. By the way, no matter where you have been diving in the world, we are confident you will be wowed by BC diving.
- The TUSA booth had a TUSA branded Light and Motion Sola 1200 dive light. No matter where you get this is an amazing light, a ScubaGadget Editor’s choice (http://www.scubagadget.com/?p=1582) you will have divers following you around just to watch what appears under your brilliant beam. TUSA also carries Waterproof products in the US. This is the first time we have seen that them showing the Waterproof 5/10 hood. This hood has 10 mils of warmth combined with more comfort than any five mil hood we have tried (http://www.scubagadget.com/?p=1448).
- We found two booths at the show which focused on Christian divers. It is truly something that we never thought about. One was Breath Life Dive Wear which carries a line of Christian dive t-shirts. Their web site says that “most dive t-shirts teeter on the ‘dark side’ so we’ve given the industry a clean slate. Here is a God-breathed line of apparel divers can be proud to display. However, if potential dealers want to contact them, they may have sit down and pray, because the company’s website says “Become a partner by sending us an email with your [contact info]” but does not offer provide the email address. Kinda illustrates the phrase, “God helps those [companies] that help themselves.” The other Christian leaning booth was Reef Ministries. Reef Ministries’ mission is to “utilize God’s underwater world in the advancement of creation, environmental stewardship, and discipleship through Christ-centered adventures for all.” They also had a book for sale by Paul Hudson called the Diver’s Devotional: Deeper in 40 Days.
- As with minimalistic DiveRite booth, DUI (Diving Unlimited International) was another major company at the DEMA show with a tiny booth. At the 2010 Show, DUI made a splash that signaled a return to innovation with their “10 new products for 2011” tag line. This year they were showing nothing at all. They booth only had a cabinet, table and chairs. We did however learn a bit more about their promised silicon Zip seals. They are still having trouble getting the neck seal system to an acceptable quality level. They also told us that they decided to forgo using the silicon seals developed by Si-Tech. Our contact at WaterProof told us that he believes that silicone zip seals will be extremely difficult to accomplish without a significant change in the current zip seal design.
- We spoke with a rep from Princeton Tec and ask him why the seem to be lagging behind in dive light innovation. They have no offerings with magnetic switches, sticking with twist cap switches or manual switches that pierce the light’s watertight envelope, offering another point of failure. (Both of our personal Princeton Tec lights failed at the switch). The rep, who himself did not seem to be very excited about his own companies products, explained that Scuba is a small part of their business and that they are content with supplying the same standard set of entry level lights and to focus on new divers. I later wondered if he meant that they focus on new divers because new divers may be the ones that have not seen the cool lights from other vendors yet. He did offer that they will soon be releasing an angled, sort-of-ergonomic backup light. However, that light’s only new feature was an angled body.
- DAN (Divers Alert Network) was showing a mix of new first aid, oxygen and rescue kits. They have also have added a radar reflector to there SMB (safety sausage) and a radically improved solution for ventilation emergencies called NuMask. We asked them about the Nautilus LifeLine radio. This co-marketed diver safety radio was the ScubaGadget Best in Show choice for DEMA Show 2010. Additionally the radio, no longer appears on the DAN website store. DAN and DiveAlert staff both said the radios were supposed to ship months ago and complained of significant flack from customers. She pointed us toward the Nautilus booth. The rep there had good news. He said the products for DAN members and others were on the way via Fed-X as of yesterday. Anyone with a back order should contact the company if it does not arrive soon. Nautilus staff explained that the developer is a “perfectionist,” that they needed to enlarge the buttons, and that certification issues held them up. A lesson that should be learned by all showing “coming” products at DEMA shows is the classic “under promise and over deliver.”
- The publisher of Wreck Diving magazine impressed us greatly with his passion and mission to provide complete in-depth articles on the wrecks they cover. They offer a unique perspective on wreck diving. Instead of focusing on the mere wreck itself or just a dive experience, they bring the wreck alive with historical data and other important and fascinating information.
- We stopped by the Bonnier corporation (e.g Scuba Diving and Sport Diver mags) booth to again try to get an answer to a persistent question; “Why do they still promote 60 Second ScubaLab as an unbiased “consumer reports” reports for divers when by their own admission (see http://www.scubagadget.com/?p=1457) these videos are paid advertising. Likewise, David Espinosa, Scuba Diving mag editor, told us last may that “all of the email newsletters are advertiser promotions and not editorial content. Staff at the booth said they were unable to comment on this matter but would pass it on to management.
- Just as we were walking out the door a friend handed us what looked liked a condom packet. It was labeled “Dive Safe, CO-PRO – Personal carbon monoxide protection.” We were told it came from the Trident Booth and will investigate further. As it turns out CO-PRO is a simple and we think, relatively inexpensive, tool for divers to test tanks for carbon monoxide. The packet contains a balloon and small chemical sensor disk. An online video shows how to place the small disk in the balloon and inflate the balloon with tank gas for a quick test for any trace of CO. The disk can used to test multiple tanks. What is revolutionary is the comparison between this simple system and the other available options such as the $300 plus option available from Analox. We have calls into the company and will definitely have more information on this product soon.
That is the last day of DEMA Show for 2011. But stay tuned. We will show summary including trends we spotted and the Best and Oddest of Show awards coming soon. If you have comments on the show, products, seminars, or your pick for best in show, let us know via FaceBook (http://facebook.com/ScubaGadget) or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org .