As electronic devices become smaller, cheaper and more powerful, their applications can be seen infiltrating all walks of life. We dive into a new, emerging wave of SCUBA technology
The first iPhone commercials proudly stated “There’s an App for that.” Indeed, it seems so. More and more diving related apps for mobile devices are available, not least among them the splendid DIVER iPad magazine app, available soon from the iTunes newsstand (hint hint).
Underwater housings, seen below, can now turn your beloved iPhone into a good little underwater camera. But they are only camera housings, the new iGills housing and app package offers much more. It aims to replace your stills and video camera, dive computer, log book and even compass.
Despite an evolution in micro electronics in recent years, the recreational dive industry has seen few innovations. We’ve had heads up displays inside masks, and remotely air integrated computers. But as mobile devices become more common in the diving public, it’s easy to forget just how powerful these little computers have become.
iPhones and in time, other mobile devices, may just usher in a new era of dive equipment.
iGills, now on sale from www.igills.com and the forthcoming Scuba Capsule, are two products that take advantage of this technology and apply it to recreational scuba diving.
The iGills unit (above) is a solid, plastic housing with built-in depth and temperature gauge rated to 130 feet (40m). The idea is simple; plug your precious iPhone into the housing and using the free, accompanying app, turn your phone into a multipurpose dive tool, with high resolution screen, 8 mega pixel camera, fast processor and GPS.
Some divers won’t be thrilled with the idea of having one device do everything. What if it floods, or the app crashes? Well, as with any dive computer or instrument, you should ideally have a back-up. Any computer can fail. Any compass can be lost and any camera can flood. Mobile apps have evolved to a point where, if they are well developed, they shouldn’t crash and indeed the iGills app has not.
Two markets where the iGills and Scuba Capsule units may do well are travellers and divers not diving enough to justify buying a full set of gear. They can take their iPhone underwater as dive computer, as compass, as underwater stills and video camera and as dive log. The iGills unit even displays your dive info while snapping stills or shooting video.
This reduces cost for a vacationing diver, and cuts excess baggage fees. It may not replace all the gear a regular diver has shelled out for over the years, but maybe it doesn’t need to. iGills serves as camera and also as backup device if your computer fails or if you lose a compass.
This technology also can be used as an emergency device, it’s a phone after all. Phone reception in the middle of the Atlantic may not be realistic but for a shore dive, or even a couple of miles out, you may be able to ring your mum for help… before posting photos on Facebook, as the website humorously states.
One simply stunning aspect to this technology is that you can video, edit and share your dive all from one mobile device, during your surface interval. In an age where social media and constant communication is hugely important to a lot of people, this really is a remarkable achievement and may actually help promote diving to a new audience.
One big question that remains to be seen is how many people will risk their precious iPhone underwater. The old saying goes: never take anything underwater you’re not prepared to lose. Are divers prepared to lose their phones? For many the the answer will be no, but for a brave few a new world of evolving dive technology awaits, and it’s only going to get better.
iPhone cases for underwater photography:
TAT7 – www.tat7.net
Produced for the iPhone 4/4S the TAT7 is one of the simplest solutions for underwater iPhone photography. Rated to a 100 feet (30m), the housing enables use of the camera app via three pre-positioned buttons. Simple, effective.
Watershot – www.watershot.com
This bright little housing is rated to 160 feet (49m), has a glass lens port for great image clarity and comes with a universal tripod mount and GoPro mount adapters. The free app allows for easy use of camera functions when submerged.
iPatima – www.patimahousing.com
If you can’t be without your phone at 900 feet (275m), then you need one of these. Download the $0.99 custom app and shoot video or stills through this aluminum and stainless steel housing. Also available for the Samsung Galaxy II and LG Optimus.
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