Press Releases

October 1, 2007


ORLANDO, FL, October 1, 2007 — Scuba diving is a sport that attracts millions of people from around the world; its popularity continues to grow every year.  With an estimated two to three million certified scuba divers in the United States alone, more men and women are attracted to the sport, enjoying the visual beauty of underwater exploration.

Yet scuba diving, like virtually any sport, has its risks.  Figures from 2004 show that 160 divers died in accidents; more than half of them occurred in the United States and Canada.  In addition, another 640 dive-related injuries of various degrees were reported during the same period. The fatalities follow an all-too-familiar pattern:  of the 88 Americans and Canadians who lost their lives while scuba diving, one-third of them began having problems and lost consciousness while at the bottom.

While it would be an over-simplification to say that the victims’ lives may have been saved if their distress had been noticed and responded to more quickly, it is an incontrovertible fact that safety issues are a paramount concern for any diver.   The capability to contact a fellow diver or the surface ship when something goes wrong, within seconds, may literally make the difference between life and death.

The answer, according to an Israeli-based firm, is based on technology that teenagers use every day.

“We saw how popular text messaging has become worldwide, and knew instantly that we could bring that functionality to divers, helping to increase their safety while underwater,” says Netta Kerem, president and chief executive officer of the Underwater Technology Centre (UTC), which has developed a first-of-its kind underwater digital device that helps divers stay in closer contact than ever before, even while allowing them to move greater distances from each other.

UTC’s device, to be introduced later this month at the DEMA conference in Orlando, will allow divers to send text messages between themselves, or up to the surface ships, up to 500 meters away, the equivalent of more than five football fields.  Even better, the device will come equipped with a unique distress notifier; if a diver finds himself in trouble, he can activate a special SOS signal, which will allow other divers to pinpoint his location up to 1000 meters, and quickly reach him to provide assistance.

But texting capabilities are only part of what UTC’s device will offer.  “We are combining our exclusive, patented technology with technology found in existing devices to produce a device that allows one diver to message more than a dozen other divers at the same time.  It is easily worn on your arm, or an inflator,” says Kerem.  He adds that it is also far more comfortable than the cumbersome voice-activated communicators used by some divers.   “We have tested the devices on more than 100 dives, in real-world conditions,” Kerem states.  “In every instance, divers tell us they are impressed with the device’s ease of use, and the way it helps them keep in touch with other divers, both underwater and on the surface.  It gives them a greater degree of confidence, which allows them to more fully enjoy their dives.”

Kerem says he’s eagerly awaiting the DEMA conference, when the device will be publicly introduced.  UTC will demonstrate the device at its booth (#1597).