The Canary's first successful underwater test
The Canary - Scuba Safety Reimagined
The Canary - Scuba Safety Reimagined
Some of the late stage prototypes
A diver exploring the ocean with the Canary
What it does
The Canary is a fuel gauge for your scuba tank, displaying critical information to your dive companions about how much air is left in your tank. Designed as an accessory device, it retrofits onto any scuba regulator set-up allowing divers to communicate easily
The idea for the Canary came from a university industrial design project, being an underwater sport, communication in scuba diving is inherently a challenge - our research found that scuba divers never dive alone, it’s a team sport and everybody is responsible for the safety of others. This starts with the most obvious element of scuba diving, your air tank. It’s crucial to know not only your own, but every other diver's air tank pressure levels. However, many things can get in the way of communicating about air pressure; such as inexperience, complicated equipment and of course the exciting new world which can take all of your attention.
How it works
The Canary is a wearable accessory to the existing scuba kit which displays your air tank pressure to your dive companions. The device is comprised of two units, the first attaches at the tank to read the pressure levels and the second which is mounted next to the regulator (mouthpiece) allowing easy viewing for your dive buddy when they glance at you. The Canary displays a panel of lights which indicate tank pressure status, similar to the way you read a fuel gauge in your car, encouraging a constant conversation about tank pressure levels. We want anybody to be able to use the canary so we designed it to easily mount onto all existing scuba regulator set-ups. The device can be calibrated to allow use on different tanks from big to small with one simple press of a button. Once calibrated the tank pressure level is distributed among the lights, with the lowest of the 5 flashing at the recommended 50 bar reserve level to ensure safe passage to the surface.
Through the product development journey the Canary has evolved and changed many times as the project transitioned from assessment to a fully fledged startup. The first stages saw rapid and divergent thinking in the form of brainstorming, cultural probes and sketching. Moving forward in the design process many foam models were created and tested before finalising 3d printed prototypes which integrated with Arduino electronics. The project was delivered as three complementary products which linked with an app to analyse the data. After going back to divers and instructors to understand the core of the problem, the design pivoted from a product ecosystem to focus solely on the Canary as it had the most market potential. This stage saw the Canary transition from a holistic regulator into an accessory, opening up market potential to include divers who already owned a regulator. After many rounds of prototyping above water, we have recently completed our first working underwater prototypes, which have been developed and tested alongside experienced dive instructors. These parts utilised custom PCBs and low volume manufactured hardware to prove the concept in the water. Currently we are solving design problems which were identified when testing in the harsh underwater environment.
How it is different
The proactive nature of the Canary solution is what makes it unique. Through its ambient display of air level information, divers for the first time at a glance have constant access to this important data for the entire duration of the dive. Whilst there are solutions already in place for divers to communicate about air pressure, they are demand driven processes which remain under utilised or reactive solutions which are only useful at the point of critical pressure reserve. The Canary brings tank pressure to the forefront of the divers mind, creating a conversation about their lifeline, resulting in a more informed and aware diver experience.
We are looking to raise further funding and transition into manufacture with the hope to soon see these devices being used all over the world, enhancing safety underwater and encouraging enthusiasm and trust for the sport above. We believe that everybody has the right to a safe dive and through the development of the Canary hope to foster a larger and safer dive community. With the ultimate goal of the Canary becoming a safety standard among divers, as the invention of dive computers have done before us. We are also looking into other applications for our technology in different industries for other respiratory monitoring issues.
Since graduation from university the Canary Scuba team has been accepted into the QUT BlueBox Accelerator program and has received the following awards: • VALD Performance hardware prize • Bob Taylor estate promising innovation award