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"Underwater GPS" for technical divers

Finland. The country with the largest number of lakes in the world. Home of legendary brands such as Nokia, Fiskars and our client - technology start-up Ariadna Tech Inc. When we met for the first time, Ariadna team were looking for a partner to help them translate a very advanced technology into a product. We love projects that explore undiscovered paths and aim for global innovation. That's how our collaboration began.

  • Kraków, Poland,
    Helsinki, Finland,
    2019
  • Completed services:
    Product system design project
    Testing and supervision over implementation
  • Impact:
    Translation of technology into a professional device
    Commercialization of a global innovation
    Navigation system for divers to increase safety while in the deep sea 

 

The challenge was to design three functionally advanced devices for extreme environments. It was important to consider ergonomics and safety of use in extremely demanding conditions. Many aspects contributed to the uniqueness and complication of our task.

No reference projects or comparable commercial products

Our project for the Ariadna Tech start-up concerned a completely new solution that has no market competition, so there are no comparable products on the market that work in a similar way or perform a similar function. Therefore, we could not start with a benchmark. We had to do a lot of testing and research. We tested shapes and forms using substitute materials. This allowed us to get into the shoes of the person putting the devices on.

 

Extreme operating conditions

The device is designed for tech divers working in deep waters. In boundless water expanses or tight passages of underwater caves the device is exposed to high pressure and mechanical damage. The product also had to be fully waterproof, possible to operate in extremely low temperatures and total darkness, by a person wearing thick gloves impairing perception.

Complex ergonomics

The project required developing the right ergonomics from scratch.  The devices need to be attached to the user in a secure way, while not hindering movement. A Wrist Unit is attached to the diver's wrist, while a Navigation Transmitter to the calf.

We made a number of 1:1 scale mock-ups from substitute materials and conducted tests on individuals from the 5th percentile female to the 95th percentile male. The main challenge for the designers turned out to be the mounting elements fixing the device to the surface of the suit worn by the diver, but also the shape of the devices. The calf-mounted Transmitter required a sophisticated shape that would accommodate all the components inside without interfering with the movement of the legs while swimming.

 

A Pressure Transmitter, on the other hand, is a device attached to the oxygen cylinder; its attachment did not cause any problems with ergonomics.

We couldn’t test it on ourselves

Members of Ergodesign team have various interests, but none of us is a deep-sea diver. To empathize with the user, we closely cooperated with professional divers. Stories and photos they shared helped us see how the perception and motor skills of a diver are comparable to those of an intoxicated person.

 

From the technical point of view, the project was extremely difficult. The assumed manufacturing technology was plastic injection and flat tempered or sapphire glass. The main challenges were to properly arrange electronics inside the device and use wall thickness that had to be a compromise between durability and the technical limitations of the technology.

 

Results

The result is a set of advanced devices. The Wrist Unit is an innovative combination of a waterproof, pressure-resistant display with a 3D tracker, speedometer and rangefinder. The Navigation Transmitter is a depth transmitter with a DIPS Diver ™ positioning system. The Pressure Transmitter is a pressure transducer.

 

All the three components of the Ariadna Tech system, along with a dedicated application, create a comprehensive navigation system for divers. The patent-pending technology for underwater navigation provides real-time readout of location, speed and distance information. In this way, it supports the diver's return along a traveled route, which can be recorded and shared.

 

The Ariadna device goes in a good direction to improve the safety of divers. According to DAN USA statistics, 15-18 amateur divers and less than 4 professional divers* are killed per 100,000 divers per year while diving. Commercializing the product and making it available to the amateur market can reduce these numbers.

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