Diving dangers could be reduced using new technology that would allow divers to dive deeper and for a longer period of time. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a branch of the United States Department of Defense, has begun development on a new technology that has the potential to change the lives of divers.
Dangers for Divers
Professional divers are all too familiar with the risks associated with diving too deep and then surfacing too quickly. While underwater, divers inevitably absorb some air into their body tissues, which is a normal part of deep sea diving. However, a quick ascension to the surface of the water causes the gas to form bubbles in the body. This effect is commonly referred to as “the bends” or decompression sickness. Divers suffering from decompression sickness can experience disorientation, a chance of seizure, and in some cases, sudden death. Other side effects include the potential for joints to freeze up, almost as if they were paralyzed.
Scientists in the Pentagon are working on new technology that would allow divers to go deeper for longer. This new technology involves hooking the divers up to sensors that read physical signs in the body as well as levels of gases, like nitric oxide, that help prevent diving sicknesses. If the levels get too low, the device knows to send more of the gas to the diver.
Who will use it?
The diving gear will be portable enough for a diver to carry, but sophisticated enough to be used by bomb-disposal crews and on special military operations. It will also be helpful for commercial divers who are working to uncover and extract deep sea oil, gas, and minerals. Although the project is still in the development stage, there is great promise for military, civilian, and commercial divers to benefit from this new technology.
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