DEMA Show 2011 Show Summary and Industry Trends

Here we offer our summary of the show, the trends we noticed and will be watching in the coming year. And, because we cannot be everywhere, we offer links to others fine coverage of the show.

Summary

Most we interviewed thought the seminars were great this year. Many commented that they were best ever. On the other hand, despite the
attendance numbers being close to previous years, most vendors said they thought attendance at the booths seemed less than last year. We noticed that the show room in Orlando does appear larger and the lighting is softer than in Vegas, which could affect this perception.

There were still many large scale booths. A few companies went for the large booths and a very few (e.g. DiveRite and DUI) took the minimalist approach. The hottest booth at the show was the certainly the GoPro Booth, that was packed with excitement and buyers from the show’s start to finish. There were still some amazing innovations and oddballs (see our Best of Show and Oddist of show awards article). ScubaGadget reporters noticed that we had more company with “live from the show” coverage this year than ever before.

In response to lively discussions over the years about letting consumers attend the DEMA show; DEMA announced that they will also be producing a new consumer festival in 2013. The “Be a Diver Adventure Sports Festival” will be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from April 26-28th of 2013.

As a former successful event planner, I (John) am very impressed with Adams’ PR (the show producers) running of DEMA show. Each year they refine the processes even more. However, planners all know that the best run shows can still wane in attendance without fresh new ideas that excite and inspire attendees to make the commitment to attend. We look forward to seeing what they
come up with for next year.

Ken English, a reporter for X-Ray Mag, asked Chaela to shoot some candid shots, which he made into a video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wO2NapYIds4

Trends

Each year, we also take a trend-spotting tour of the show floor and look for patterns and bubbles of innovation. We expect you will start to see more products focused on the following trends.

  • Easy tank straps and tank neck straps: Most of the BNMs (Big Name Manufacturers) and some startup accessory companies are showing innovations that make it easy to strap you tanks on your BCD or Backplate. The new strapping systems often include an easy adjustment feature to make switching between tank sizes easy. One of the easiest to both use and adjust comes from Scuba Solutions USA known simply as the Easy Tank Strap. Its ratchet adjustment system reminded a friend of ours of a giant wire tie. We will be testing this product soon for a full live-dive report. ScubaPro and Aqua Lung were among the field of BNMs showing new versions of their tank straps. The Aqua Lung version called “GripLock”, found on their innovative and new Axiom I3, includes both macro and micro adjustments. The Macro adjustments are clearly labeled by tank size. The GripLock is all metal and has a unique “finger saver” feature. We will have more soon on the Axiom BCD soon. More BCSs are also incorporating a smaller tank neck strap to keep the tanks more stable and to prevent the tank from falling out if the main strap becomes loose or fails.
  • Recreational rebreathers: The introduction of the new PADI recreational rebreather certifications has inspired manufactures to bring a host of new recbreathers that meet the PADI
    Type R requirements. These include semi-closed (SCR) and closed-circuit rebreathers (CCR) which are fully electronically controlled, known as eSCR and eCCR. Manufacturers entering the field include Hollis, Kiss and Poseidon. The Hollis Explorer, developed by VR Technology seemed to get the most buzz at the show. Jill Heinherth sang the praises of this unit. The Explorer’s technology is unique and sits between the semi-closed circuit KISS GEM and the fully closed and fully computer driven Poseidon Discovery. SSI has announced a training partnership with Poseidon for the Discovery.
  • Freediving: Training agencies are also fueling the growth of the convergence of freediving into the world of scuba. SSI is offering four freediving levels of certification that includes Basic and three levels associated with depths of 20, 30 and 40 msw. Dive shops, especially in California, are realizing that there is good money in this branch of diving. Most major manufacturers of
    masks, fins and suits are either offering or expanding their lines of freediving specific gear. There were also more freediving specific booths at the show this year.
  • Recreational sidemount diving: Another facet where rec and tec are meeting is sidemount diving. Many tec equipment dealers were selling sidemount rigs with focused on getting recreational divers involved. SSI is helping build the wave with their SSI Specialty Course in Recreational Sidemount Diving. The website http://www.sidemountinstructor.com/ touts advantages for sidemount that include greater comfort and flexibility, easier on your back, added safety and easy in water donning.
  • LED dive lights are getting brighter: (e.g. WiseDive 3000 lumen handheld). LED continues to dominate in recreational dive lights and is taking over in tech canister lights and photo lights. HID lights and other technologies are hard to find. Prices for the high end lights are dropping (e.g. Manta Industries $650 1K lumen canister light) but recreational divers seem willing paying more for the new super bright primary lights such as the Light and Motion Sola 1200.
  • Wetsuits are getting dryer: Semidry wetsuits are become the new norm and some of these suits like the ScubaPro Nova Scotia keep out the water so well that we have heard rumors of suit hackers adding drysuit valves to them and turning them into an economy drysuit. The lines between wet and drysuits are blurring and we may soon need to rename the category.

Others’ Show Coverage and Summaries

With well over 650 booths at the show, we certainly cannot see it all. Here are some links to DEMA Show 2011 coverage from our colleagues.  Additionally, we leave the coverage of underwater photography and video coverage up to the pros in that field: Dive Photo Guide and Wetpixel


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