Revival Vest: A Fail-Safe Anti-Drowning Device For Watersports

Humans didn’t evolve to live in the water. If we were, we’d probably have gills and fins like most of our marine friends. Still, humans like to push the limits of their oxygen-dependent bodies. Given the fact that most of our planet is covered in water, it’s no surprise that we’ve developed ways to survive on, in, and under it, despite our flesh-and-blood limitations.

Despite all of our fancy boating and diving technology, however, things still go wrong. Revival Vest is a conceptual design for a life vest that can tell if something’s gone wrong, automatically inflating to bring a diver to the surface in an upright safety position ready for resuscitation.

According to the designers, who hail from New Zealand, the Revival Vest uses Footfalls and Heartbeats smart fabric technology which monitors respiration. This intelligent fabric detects change in circumference and stretch around the chest while the diver suppresses breathing.

This vest was designed with free divers in mind, a particular breed of brave individuals who specialize in diving in shallow water without an oxygen tank. They hold their breath instead, hence the focus on chest circumference. Don’t be lulled to sleep by the term “shallow water”, however. It’s still dangerous and, with a new surge in both competitive and recreational free diving, important to increase safety without restricting the sport. If something goes wrong, the Revival Vest can tell, and it triggers the release of a small amount of CO2. The gas inflates a series of small bladders tucked inside the vest, bringing the diver to the surface.

Although it was designed for free divers, it’s easy to see that this vest could increase the safety of any water sport. That’s probably why the Revival Vest was recently selected as one of the top 15 finalists for the 2012 James Dyson Award.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog