Like a gadget from a James Bond movie, Cetus Design has developed a working prototype of a gas generant Personal Flotation Device designed to keep the person wearing it afloat, that is integrated into the wristband of the Smartwatch the person is wearing.
This results in a smartwatch with a bangle like appearance and dimensions, but a production version could achieve the approximate size shown in the photo below of a mockup of a possible production version of the device. To be clear, we have built a proof of concept working prototype, which is shown in the video of the ocean test, but it is rougher in appearance and bulkier than a production version could be.
This invention is called “T-1”. Cetus Design is looking to license or sell the intellectual property associated with T-1 - our patents, trade secrets and know how - to a Smartwatch manufacturer with the resources to develop, manufacture and market a production version of a Smartwatch featuring T-1 technology. Why would a Smartwatch manufacturer be interested in doing this? Because T-1 gives a smartwatch a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) - the smartwatch can become a personal flotation device for the wearer with the press of a (protected) button - that smartwatch manufacturers will value, since product differentiation is a way to increase profits by avoiding commoditization of their product.
The problem T-1 is designed to solve is if a person gets into difficulty in the water and aren’t wearing a lifejacket, in which case they still might be wearing a T-1 enabled smartwatch because many people wear watches throughout the day. As the saying goes, the best lifejacket is the one you're wearing when you need it. T-1 is like a reserve parachute, it is there as a last chance backup if you find yourself in difficulty in the water and you’re not wearing a lifejacket. In this situation T-1 can be a life saver, providing 10 kg of buoyancy - as much as some lifejackets.
For example, you may be in the water at a beach and find yourself caught in a rip current and become too tired to swim or tread water any more (in fact this is exactly what happened to the inventor of T-1 and is why he invented T-1). No one wears a lifejacket when they go swimming at the beach, so if you get into difficulty in the water at the beach what other options are there aside from being rescued by a lifeguard or a good samaritan (if they are around and see your difficulty), or getting extremely lucky (as in the case of our inventor)?
You can know how to swim and still get into difficulty in the water. For example if caught in a rip and you have to keep your head above water for long enough and get tired, or you are swimming and get a cramp, or the water is rough, or you lose strength from the cold, or you have an injury, etc. There is a reason lifejackets were invented and have remained a thing for 168 years and counting. It is worth repeating however that no one wears a lifejacket at the beach and generally many people are not wearing lifejackets when they find themselves in difficulty in the water. However in these situations they might be wearing a T-1 enabled smartwatch.
Not all of the existing Personal Flotation Devices on the market are designed to turn most unconscious persons face up in the water; that’s a special type of PFD. Therefore the fact that T-1 will not turn an unconscious person face up in water does not automatically mean it doesn’t have value as a PFD.
Gas generants are the same technology used to inflate car airbags. They are solid chemicals that produce large amounts of gas when electrically ignited. In our application they are designed to inflate the airbags in seconds rather than milliseconds in the case of a car airbag. Gas generants are used whenever mission critical inflation or actuation is required, which is why they can be found in applications ranging from car airbags to rockets and Mars landers.
Two gas generators each with an airbag folded on top of it are built into the band of the smartwatch on either side of the central tub (where the time is shown). The device is manually activated by the wearer pressing a protected button (to avoid accidental activation). This electrically ignites the gas generators which inflate the airbags which pop out of protective covers. The wearer then pushes one inflated airbag under each armpit (as shown in the ocean test video) which gives them 10kg of passive and stable buoyancy, the same as some lifejackets.