As a Scuba diver, I would gladly trust my life to the Apple Watch. Here’s why. • TechCrunch

Earlier at this time I wrote a bit about Apple Watch Extremely’s new Scuba diving characteristic, and lots of of us got here out of the woodwork to inform me they wouldn’t belief a ‘dive toy’ to maintain them secure underneath water. I respect their opinion, however I figured I’d share why I really feel totally snug trusting Apple on my scuba-diving adventures. As a result of, clearly, you could learn a 1,800-word opinion piece the place I nerd out about scuba diving. Let’s gooooooo.


First issues first; I’m not right here to persuade individuals who don’t belief Apple in any other case; Scuba diving isn’t with out danger, and you’re chargeable for your individual security. In case you don’t really feel snug with the Apple Watch Extremely to maintain observe of your dive security, then there’s a extremely easy resolution: Don’t use it.

I’ve no qualms about doing so, nevertheless, and I’ll let you know why.

A little bit of nerdy dive principle

To grasp why the Scuba factor is such an enormous deal on the Apple Watch Extremely, and why I’ve no qualms trusting it, I’ll must, only for a second, nerd out about spending time underwater for a second. If you’re Scuba licensed, all of that is previous information, be happy to skip forward.

You’ll have heard of decompression illness, or ‘the bends’. It’s a nasty set of signs that may happen once you breathe compressed air at strain. Nowadays, it comes up most frequently in Scuba diving, but it surely was initially found when employees had been working in caves. It may additionally occur once you journey in unpressurized plane, and it’s one thing astronauts fear about as effectively.

In a nutshell: the air we breathe has round 78% Nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% ‘different’ in it. The oxygen is usually a downside – when you breathe pure oxygen at simply 6 meters / 20 ft or so underneath the ocean, it turns into poisonous, and you may have a seizure. As you’ll be able to think about, that’s unhealthy information once you’re underwater.

Nonetheless, leisure scuba divers don’t dive with pure oxygen, however as a substitute with compressed air, or oxygen-enriched air. Both manner, there’s usually between 78% and 65% Nitrogen within the air in Scuba tanks, and that’s the gasoline that causes issues; as you breathe it, the gasoline dissolves in your blood, and very like a soda bottle underneath strain. When the bottle is closed, there’s no seen bubbles. Shake it and open it, and instantly you’ve gotten a fountain of sticky goo. Your blood is like that, when underneath strain: Come up from depth too quick, and the bubbles in your blood may come out of resolution, which may trigger all kinds of nasty signs.

That is my ‘I haven’t the foggiest concept’ pose. You’ll see that lots when you’re following me round on dives. Gear to concentrate to on this picture: I’m sporting my Suunto D9 watch (I’m sporting it with the watch face on the within of my wrist, as a result of it makes it straightforward to take a look at as I’m ascending). You can too see the gauge cluster tucked into my cumberbund, which incorporates the compass (seen), and on the opposite facet, an air strain gauge to see how a lot air is left in my scuba tank, and a depth gauge to see how deep I’m. Picture Credit score: TechCrunch / Haje Kamps

A dive laptop is designed to make sure that you don’t over-load your blood and tissues with Nitrogen, and that you simply floor slowly sufficient that bubbles don’t type. Briefly: In case you restrict how lengthy you breathe at strain, and when you floor at an affordable charge, diving is fairly secure.

In case you actually need to nerd out on bubbles in liquids, begin at Boyle–Mariotte’s regulation, and go from there. #SCIENCE!

Why I belief Apple with my diving

There’s two facets to a great dive laptop: Instrumentation, logging, and algorithms. The instrumentation is easy: Dive computer systems have lots of options, however the necessary one is a strain gauge and a clock. The dive laptop logs how lengthy you’re at sure depths, and retains observe of that with a sure decision. Some dive computer systems file that each 10 seconds, some each 30, and a few roughly usually, however the important thing factor is that it retains observe of issues, so that you don’t should.

The ‘so that you don’t should’ half is necessary. Once you learn to scuba dive, you’ll learn to use so-called ‘dive tables’. Mainly, these had been designed by the US Navy for its divers, to make sure that when you stayed, say, 20 minutes at 10 meters depth, you would calculate how lengthy you’ll be able to dive on your subsequent dive. The issue is that dive tables assume that you simply preserve detailed logs of how lengthy you’re at which depth, which you would do, however most divers don’t. To be conservative, then, you could dive lots much less. Lots of people pay good cash to go on dive journeys, and also you don’t pay all that cash to take a seat on a dive boat ready for the nitrogen to offgas, so a greater resolution is a dive laptop.

Folks doubting Apple achieve this as a result of they don’t belief the Cupertino-based large to do the above precisely; however that’s the place I believe they’re flawed. Apple watches are distinctive at logging issues; steps, coronary heart charges, exercise; it’s all being logged.

The ultimate piece of the puzzle is the algorithms to calculate how a lot nitrogen is in your physique. It is a little bit advanced; some tissues tackle and launch nitrogen slower than others, and every physique is totally different. If Apple had stated that it had designed its personal dive algorithms, I’d be extremely sceptical. That didn’t occur, although; the corporate introduced that it had partnered with Oceanic to develop an app to deal with that facet of issues.

Scuba diving

Ugh I miss scuba diving. This picture was taken in a Cenote (a cavern system) in Tulum Picture Credit score: TechCrunch / Haje Kamps

Oceanic is a well known, well-respected model in diving, they usually have their very own line of dive computer systems. The corporate is creating an app — bear in mind how TomTom and Garmin had mapping apps within the early days of smartphones as a result of they had been higher than Apple at mapping? It’s like that. In at this time’s Apple occasion, Oceanic talked about that they use Bühlmann’s algorithms for nitrogen loading and unloading. You may argue whether or not or not that’s the appropriate algo to make use of; some divers want the RGBM algorithm,  there’s VVAL, and a few dive tables are based mostly on Haldane’s work (though I haven’t seen that one within the wild, ever, it seems to be extra of a historic artifact).

Regardless, I belief Apple to make good {hardware} and log its measurements. I belief Oceanic to create software program to maintain divers secure. And I belief the algos they’ve chosen to calculate the nitrogen loading.

Does that imply you’re trusting Apple along with your life?

The attention-grabbing level to make right here is that Apple watches not often fail. However even when they do — or if Oceanic’s app glitches — I hope that they’re taking the identical method as most dive computer systems, which is to fail-safe. For some dive computer systems, meaning a show that simply says ‘malfunction’. For others, they simply flip the display off. As a diver, that may be tremendous scary, however that doesn’t imply you’re going to die.

Personally, I’m a PADI-certified divemaster, and a SSI-certified rescue diver. That doesn’t make me infallible, but it surely does imply I’m allowed to steer dives of licensed divers. In principle, it additionally implies that I do know what I’m speaking about, however I’m 99% certain that dive nerds will be capable of discover a mistake or two on this article. Forgive me, and when you spot errors, I dunno. Tweet me on my mobile phone or one thing.

Wouldn’t it vastly suck to should fall again on a backup plan? In fact. However solely as a result of it ruins your day, not as a result of it’ll kill you. Haje Kamps

In my position as a dive grasp, I often dive with two dive computer systems (a Suunto D9 and a Suunto Zoop, when you’re curious). The previous appears like a wristwatch and could possibly be worn repeatedly. The latter appears like a hockey puck. You may put on it round, however you’d look relatively foolish. Both manner, it implies that there’s a backup. The rationale I do that is that as a dive grasp, you’re anticipated to regulate the individuals in your group. If my dive laptop had been to fail, it could imply I couldn’t dive any extra that day. That might suck. So I’ll carry a spare. In my tons of of dives, I’ve by no means had a dive laptop fail – neither my main nor my backup.

If I had been to dive with the Apple Watch Extremely as my main dive laptop, I’d most likely have a backup caught in a pocket of my buoyancy compensator (that’s the vest-looking factor that the scuba tank is strapped to). However even when I didn’t, if the Apple watch fails someway, that isn’t, in itself, a really life-threatening downside.

An enormous quantity of Scuba diving coaching is geared toward drills for what you do if a bit of drugs malfunctions. Getting safely to the floor is an important side of that. With out a dive laptop, you’re swimming ‘blind’ – however virtually each dive setup has a depth gauge as a part of the gear. That implies that you know the way deep you’re. Even with out that, you will get safely to the floor by ‘following the smallest bubble’. In different phrases: Breathe out, search for the smallest air bubble you will discover, and go as much as the floor as slowly as that bubble. That’s usually gradual sufficient to keep away from decompression illness.

Scuba Diver

Scuba dive coaching contains lots of expertise, together with underwater navigation. The much less stated about my good friend Will right here, and the 30 minute swim we had again to the boat, the higher. Picture Credit score: TechCrunch / Haje Kamps

The opposite level right here is that the majority leisure dive certifications embody the presumption of a buddy system. That implies that on your dives, you dive with one other diver that stays with you for many of the dive. You shouldn’t do that, in fact, but when your dive laptop fails, it’s not fully unreasonable to belief their laptop to be a comparatively shut mirror of your individual dive profile. Pad that with a bit of additional slowness and care, and also you’ll most likely make it safely to the boat. And, in fact, even when your dive buddy doesn’t have a pc that works, your dive grasp most likely will, to allow them to act as a proxy on your nitrogen-loading if wanted. You shouldn’t, it isn’t really useful, and it doesn’t matter: The purpose I’m making is that you simply’ll most likely make it safely again to the boat.

Now, wouldn’t it vastly suck to should fall again on any of the backup plans? In fact it could suck. However solely as a result of it ruins your day, not as a result of it’ll kill you. At that time, you’ve trusted your dive laptop to maintain you secure. With out it, you don’t understand how a lot nitrogen is in your physique, which suggests the top of the diving day for a conservative diver. It sucks, particularly if the malfunction occurred on dive considered one of a five-dive-day, but it surely doesn’t inherently imply that your life is in danger.

That is why I belief Apple: It’s probably the greatest {hardware} producers on the planet. Implementing some fairly primary instrumentation (time and a strain gauge), into a tool will most likely be simply nice. If I’m main a dive, I’ll have a backup with me, however even when I don’t, I’ll have a dive buddy with me, and a dive grasp. And even when I’ve no different tools with me in any respect, the worst-case situation is that I miss a day of diving.

Now I simply must persuade TechCrunch to let me go and sit back in Sipadan for every week to go hang around with a bunch of tropical fish. I promise to provide the Apple Watch Extremely an exceptionally thorough overview.

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