Loss of friend was spur for freediving invention

A revival vest for freedivers designed by a Tauranga man has been named runner-up in an international student design award.

James McNab, 22, was inspired to design the vest after the death of a family friend due to a shallow-water blackout during freediving.

Mr McNab said his friend was an athletic and healthy medical student who took safety precautions as he knew the risks of what he was doing.

Shallow water blackout is something that can happen to even the most experienced divers and can occur with little or no warning, Mr McNab said.

His design saw him named runner up in the New Zealand leg of the 12th annual James Dyson Award in August.

Yesterday, it was announced that he had come second equal in the international final.

Mr McNab said the design is based around a self-inflated life jacket which is triggered to inflate by changes in bodily signs such as cerebral hypoxia during drowning.

The vest uses smart fabric technology which detects change in circumference and stretch around the chest while the diver suppresses breathing.

If the user blacks out the body becomes limp and the life vest is triggered to inflate and bring the diver safely to the surface in an upright safety position ready for resuscitation.

First place went to a product called SafetyNet which aims to make commercial fishing more sustainable by significantly decreasing the numbers of non-target and juvenile fish caught during the trawling process.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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