Hand signals are the standard way to communicate underwater. It’s an international language of communication and any nationality can ‘talk’ to each other. There are signals for indicating your status, how much air you have, emergency situations and even identifying animals. It is basic underwater sign language. Another basic and simple tool is an underwater slate to write down more complex communications.
In today’s modern age, there are some clever gadgets which allow us to communicate on an even better level with particular focus on improving safety.
Full face mask comms systems
This system is not new but very much improved. Essentially, with a full face mask spoken words are transmitted acoustically via a microphone in the mask through the water. Remember water transmits sound 4 times faster than in air, so the sound transmission is very efficient. Each diver has an earpiece which picks up the acoustic transmission to hear your words. So a group of divers can be chatting away together underwater. A surface based unit allows the Divemasters up above monitor and communicate on the network. Very cool unless you prefer the peace and quiet. Good fun if you want to learn about marine life with an experienced guide or marine biologist pointing out the different critters. Different systems have varying capabilities but in general the sounds will transmit up to 100m. This is different from hard hat commercial divers who have a direct comms link via a wired cable to the surface.
From a safety perspective it’s an excellent way to maintain control and comms underwater. A specific training course is required to learn how to use the masks. Most commonly these masks are used by professional commercial divers but there are numerous options for recreational divers.
Logosease device by Casio
This is a device that utilises a bone conduction method of communication. The unit modulates your voice into ultrasonic waves. Tap once to start transmitting, then you speak into the bone conduction microphone and tap to finish your transmission through the water. Your fellow diver then receives the ultrasonic waves and their unit will demodulate the words via the speaker into an audible voice. It not a perfect system but its less cumbersome and complex than the full face mask and does not require any special training. A unit simply clips on to the strap of a standard mask and it’s a more economical option than a full face mask unit.
Aqwary – Local subaquatic network
This new gadget is a console that replaces your pressure gauge and provides information to all divers on the network with info on diver name, air consumption, depth, bottom time, ascent rate and location.
There is a surface based unit for Divemasters onboard the dive boat or tender to monitor the divers status and location underwater. If a diver stars to run low on air, for example, an alert will go out on the network and a buddy can assist with a low on air situation or a Divemaster on the surface can initiate a recall or rescue. If a diver strays from a group or his buddy, they can be located.
So, this product is focused more on communication of monitoring safety information. Up to 70 divers can be on a single network spanning an area of 100 sq metres using 4 ultrasonic hydrophones. For a yacht, as well as any dive boats, it’s the ultimate safety resource for maintaining control and monitoring your divers. On the surface the unit can connect to a cloud via wifi to upload dive logs and perform software updates and upgrades.
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