Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Future of Web Based and Mobile Dive Planners

Originally posted to on July 1st, 2011:

When I got certified as a scuba diver I thought it was a little weird we recorded our dives in paper logs (circa 2006) so I went searching for web-based dive logs/planners to replace it. I was disappointed in the few I saw. Then I got a smart phone (an iPhone) and assumed it was only a matter of time before I’d be using it to fill out my logs. A few apps were available for dive planning but none were (are) amazing. Then came the release of mainstream tablet computers and still no great options.

At the Long Beach Scuba Show this year (2011) there were no companies or divers using the web or mobile devices for dive planning. Weird. What year is this again?

The Problem:

It took a little thinking but I realized the problem with online and mobile dive planners / logs wasn’t with the software, it's the diver’s. Scuba diver’s are lazy. Truth is most diver’s don’t fill out dive logs once they're done getting certified. To most it’s an unnecessary hassle, their computers record the basics of the dive and any discussion of cool things seen happens right afterwards with dive buddies. Who needs to record this? I’ll remember what I saw. Ha!

Newly minted scuba divers are taught to fill out their dive logs after each dive and to have either a buddy or instructor sign off on the dives. When divers want to take more advanced classes they have to prove how many dives they've completed and one of the ways to do that is through a dive log.

The real value of recording dives, unless you can remember that far back or have only a few, is a reminder of the things you've seen, the places you've dove and seeing your cumulative underwater time (in hours) pass the number of dives you've been on. Once new scuba diver’s start diving with older, more experienced recreational diver’s they pick up the bad habit of not recording dives. They assume there’s no point.

If most divers are lazy about recording their dives will we never benefit from online or mobile dive planners?

The Solution:

If we do see a solution in the future it will revolve around advancements in the dive computer. My guess is this dive computer will look like the Mares Icon HD with a large enough screen to read and enter data. This computer will have a bluetooth or WiFi transmitter and will upload all your dive info directly to the web automatically.

Essentially the social experience occurs right after the dive when everyone talks about the conditions, what they loved or hated about the dive. With this future computer you’ll be able to enter dive information on the display right then or do it later from any mobile device or computer. You’ll be able to record and attach voice notes that will translate into text. You’ll even be able to check into dive sites all over the world and on any social network with GeoLocation. (Think of check-ins on Facebook with your dive site (or coordinates) and your depth!).

Based on the rate of consumer technological adoption in the scuba industry we can expect this in... maybe 10 years? There are a number of technical hurdles to get this to work not to mention cost factors but it’s certainly doable. The person or group who does it first will have a true scuba innovation on their hands; unless they actually wait 10 years.

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