Underwater life is fascinating, beautiful and makes you understand the meaning of living in harmony. You see things you couldn’t have imagined exist, amazingly beautiful colours, corals and the fish that swim alongside you will make you feel comfortable and at peace. You glide through the water, feeling completely weightless. Once you experience the stunning underwater world, you just want to dive more and more. But, all the hassle of the preparations and logistics that go along with SCUBA diving are no fun at all.
A simple 45 minute fun dive can easily take up more than half of your day when you include time spent searching for the closest dive center, calling, booking, picking up, and returning tanks. That's time that could be spent having fun in the turquoise ocean or relaxing on the beach.
We created AirBuddy as a way to give you the freedom to dive whenever you want without the hassle or the restrictive bulk of diving gear. AirBuddy is a cross between SCUBA diving and snorkeling that doesn't require air tanks, yet still offers 45 minutes of diving time at a depth of up to 12 meters (40 ft).
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After about eight years and hundreds of dives we came to the realisation that there is no real positive correlation between how deep you dive and how much marine life you see. But there clearly is a correlation between how often you dive and how much you see.
Our best sightings often occurred on shallow dives or towards the end of the dive when we slowly began ascending and swam closer to the surface. Coral tends to grow at relatively shallow depths where the sunlight still penetrates the water, so does the majority of marine species that live off of the coral or seek protection in coral structures.
We believe 12 meters/ 40 ft (the height of a 4-story building) is plenty deep to enjoy the weightless feeling and explore the marine life on a myriad of occasions, especially on self-guided shore dives. We shot all of the photos below within this depth. (see more on our Instagram)
It's great to dive the best sites in the world, but you would wonder how much there is to explore on your local reef. Now you can even access remote places with difficult accessibility and discover new places.
Of course you can use AirBuddy for various recreational activities in shallow water. Below are just a few ideas from the recreational divers and snorkelers we worked with:
AirBuddy is the ultimate "grab-and-go" solution for recreational diving. Whether you dive after work, on a weekend, on your holiday, or traveling by boat or campervan, you now have the option to dive anytime and anywhere. No booking, rental, and transportation of heavy air tanks. No bulky and complicated gear.
AirBuddy is a battery powered dive compressor that floats on the surface above you and follows along as you dive. All you need to do is charge the battery, go to the beach, connect the hoses and ...enjoy your dive!
With a set up and pack up time of about 2 minutes, you are ready to dive just a few moments after you get to the beach.
AirBuddy offers a new alternative, bridging the gap between snorkeling and SCUBA. Whereas SCUBA (or rebreathers) are virtually irreplaceable on deep dives or dives with overhang (caves, wrecks), AirBuddy is perfect for hassle-free shallow dives. With AirBuddy you get:
- independence from air refill stations
- smaller and lighter equipment
- lower costs per dive
- a more natural and less inhibited dive experience
- quicker and easier set up and pack up
- the ability to reach locations with difficult access
- the ability to transport your complete dive system on a plane
Tanks change their buoyancy as you consume the air. Since AirBuddy doesn't require a tank, you also don't need a buoyancy compensator (BCD). Without the bulk of the tank and BCD, your drag is much lower and you are fine to wear smaller fins to propel yourself through the water (yet again less equipment). Consequently, it's also much easier to use frog kick (as opposed to flutter kick) which feels more natural to many people. All in all, with such little drag and gear on you, the experience feels closer to underwater swimming than diving.
AirBuddy sparked interest in many divers who offered to help with beta testing. Here is what some of them said after they returned from their AirBuddy dive:
So how does it really work? The rechargeable 12V battery stores energy. This energy then powers the air compressor to pressurize the surface air that is then delivered to the diver through a hose with a regulator (mouthpiece).
It's a simple concept, really. And in different forms one proven by 200 years of diving history. Remember the old pictures of divers in brass helmets? Sometimes, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Just to make it better :-) In fact, surface-supplied diving (SSBA) has been around for longer than SCUBA, but it's only thanks to recent innovations in technology that a compact version like AirBuddy has been possible.
To make AirBuddy small, light-weight, powerful, and durable, we had to go to great lengths to find the right components, materials, and manufacturing processes. If these were nowhere to be found, we invented them. Every part has been precisely engineered and has gone through many rounds of testing and improvements. Today, we are proud to be holding a patent that protects six key innovations we made for: compressor cooling, battery, underwater signaling, secure switching, the air hose, and the air reservoir. Here we've detailed some of the features of AirBuddy:
① Using latest battery technology for compact size, light weight and high capacity. Recharged from mains power outlet in just about 3.5 hours.
② 15L (915 in3) reservoir, automatically filled with pressurized air for optimal flotation, balancing diver's breathing pattern and providing emergency air.
③ Detachable magnetic wristband. Detach for "ON" and place back for "OFF".
④ Audible battery alarm to warn divers of low battery and signal for ascend.
⑤ Powerful 12 VDC compressor for maximum performance at minimum weight and size. Water-cooled to minimise adiabatic heating.
⑥ Heavy components at the bottom, lighter at the top. Combined with air hose mounting from below, it's close to impossible to capsize.
We designed AirBuddy for maximum performance, comfort, and safety at the minimum weight and size. Because stowability and transportability matter, too. With AirBuddy, you no longer need a car, but can hop on a bus or drive a scooter to the beach. Of course it's also fantastic when you go for a cruise on your boat or travel along the coast in a campervan.
AirBuddy weighs 9.5kg (21lbs) in total (some 50% to 75% less than SCUBA gear). Out of this, the recoil hose, vest and regulator weigh about 1.7kg (3.7lbs) and the main unit weighs 7.8kg (17.2lbs). Below, you can find the dimensions of AirBuddy:
Your safety is one of our top priorities, we've taken this into account and integrated some passive and active safety features into the design. Some of the safety features are:
- Removable magnetic switch to ensure that only you (the diver) can switch AirBuddy off
- Low battery alarm to inform you of depleting battery
- Large air reservoir to provide emergency air for safe return to the surface
- Visible float and diving flag to mark your position to boats, fishermen, etc.
- Descend depth limited by the length of the air supply hose
- Precison design and robust construction
In addition, we will also support you by providing instruction videos, where we remind you of the key diving principles and safety rules and provide some practical tips, such as how to choose the right amount of weights or how to clear your mask. You can read more in the FAQ section below.
At the end of the day, though, you are the ultimate guardian of your own safety. So please dive responsibly, know your limits and never go to a depth you don't feel comfortable ascending from in case of an emergency, certainly not without any back-up system, such as a small egressor ("Spare Air").
Please, back our campaign today by choosing one of the rewards from the right panel. Your support is invaluable. Anytime you see AirBuddy on the beach in the future, please proudly know it's thanks to you, the original backers! And those of you who opt for AirBuddy can in return for your trust look forward to enjoying hassle-free diving and freedom from the bulk of complicated diving gear. See you in the water!
Each AirBuddy consists of and comes in package with the compressor unit, pressure reservoir (float), supply hose, harness and regulator, battery, charger, dive flag (air intake), magnetic switch (bracelet), four velcro straps (float attachment) and battery transport case.
With the limited edition we also add a bag of spares to save you from troubles on your dive travels should you loose any of the small parts: magnetic switch, thumb screws (to attach battery terminals), battery safety link, velcro straps, air intake plug (when rinsing after dive), set of o-rings and gaskets.
We launched this campaign to build a community of people who are excited about bringing the ease of snorkeling into the fascinating world of diving. To help successfully fund this project, please, reach out to anyone who may be interested in AirBuddy to let them know about this campaign. The more the merrier (and the higher the chance of getting AirBuddy into production)! Please share this campaign among your friends using the Facebook and Twitter share buttons just below the video on top of this page or simply click here: Facebook, Twitter.
In addition, if you share our campaign with your friends using Kickbooster.me, we will give you 5% of every pledge you help raise. Just click the below banner below to register. The more you share, the more you earn!
As with many other products, the manufacturing of AirBuddy will only be possible when we meet the minimum order quantities (MOQ) of suppliers. This will in turn warrant the investment in the custom-made tooling such as injection molds, production fixtures, and special equipment that are needed to manufacture AirBuddy. This chart highlights how we will use the funds raised from this campaign:
After almost three years of development, five generations of prototypes, and countless hours of diving and testing AirBuddy, we are ready to bring AirBuddy to all water lovers. While developing some amazing technologies, we also build a strong network of manufacturers that form a solid supply chain. Below you can see the journey so far and what's next:
We are a team of divers who also happen to be technology and business professionals. Over the past three years, we have worked tirelessly to "bring fresh air to your dive". In addition to the core team, we engaged a number of suppliers, subject matter experts, family members, freelancers and public to whom we would like to sincerely thank.
If you're as excited about diving as we are, please join us on the journey by liking and following our social media.
Risks and challenges
Although we have spent a grueling close to three years on development and testing, there is always the possibility that slight adjustments may need to be made when preparing for production. We have built a sufficient buffer into our delivery timeline to ensure that we have plenty of time to get the final product just right and deliver the safest, highest quality version of the AirBuddy to you, our backers. The key risks we identified arise from two areas:
AirBuddy is built with components from multiple suppliers around the world. We strive for the best quality and won’t be willing to compromise. If possible delays occur, we’ll be sure to keep you informed and mitigate the problem as soon as possible. We choose to cooperate with reputable and experienced suppliers.
We have an experienced team who have been working for the past 3 years on all the components of AirBuddy. We have learnt a lot from our 5 generations of prototypes. In addition to proper technical documentation, we created step-by-step assembly procedures and defined detailed tooling requirements to assist clear, fact based communication with our partners. Our goal is to deliver an excellent product with the best quality.
As with most Kickstarter creators, this is our first time taking a product through the production process and out to the customer on this scale. Fortunately, we all have worked on challenging projects in the past and have extensive experience with project planning and successful delivery.
We are well prepared and see this going smoothly. However, if any roadblocks should arise, we promise to keep our backers informed every step of the way.
- (30 days)