02 Jul Is Māoï a dive computer appropriate for disabled scuba divers?
On June 17th, we officially ended the Māoï tour in Brittany, France. After a 20 days’ tests session in the SMPE dive center, a special test organized for disabled divers with the GASM dive center of Quimper and one last event organized by the SMPE, Māoï is coming back home, in Montpellier, France!
During this 3 month’s journey, we went through many events and emotions. After being tested by a team of firemen-divers in May, our prototype has been experimented by three disabled divers from the dive center of Quimper, France. A unique experience, for our team as well as for our testers! And this is confirmed by Sonia, one of our disabled diver and tester.
Focus on Sonia, tester of Māoï and disabled diver
Sonia, 42, is the mother of two children, who are 11 and 5. She has been paraplegic for 15 years, after an accident that left her unable to use her legs. Then, without leaving her sporty personality, Sonia attempted a lot of parasports for leisure and for competition, such as bike or table tennis. But her attraction for water led her to scuba diving: « I love the aquatic element which makes me feel very good » she confides us.
That is how, in 2008, Sonia discovered for the first time the practice of scuba diving for disabled people in the Sports School of Dinard, France. She was involved into the course of the future DiveMasters who were learning to take in charge disabled divers. Later, the GASM dive center of Quimper opened a parasport division: her last experience at Sports School encouraged her to join this dive center. In 2010, during a trip to Estartit, Sonia was fully convinced to pursue scuba diving: « I kinda caught the scuba virus during this trip! »
Then, pushed by the call of the open sea, Sonia’s daily life has been filled with dives. « When I’m underwater, I feel so happy to have some freedom of movement and to leave my wheelchair! »
But the disabled diver’s routine requires a lot of organization, as Sonia teaches us: “This is an activity that requires a lot of time, it’s longer for us to prepare ourselves. It requires energy to slip on our suit, or to rig our equipment.” “Personally, I slip on my suit when I’m laying back on a rug, in a van or on a boat. I rig my bottle on shore, and somebody is bringing it for me onboard. Then, somebody helps me to get inside the boat. I gear up myself before going underwater (if it’s okay), or directly in the water.”
During this routine, Sonia underlines that disabled divers can rely on their dive masters’ support. “It’s impossible for disabled divers to have independence (we need help to bring our equipment that is quite heavy, and it’s often hard to get on the boat). That’s why it’s very important to have a good feeling with your divemaster.”
Despite these distinctive characteristics, disabled divers have to respect the mandatory rules of safety such as the use of a dive computer. To do that, Sonia is fixing her dive computer to her left wrist. But then, she has to stop her « kicking » effort with hands to read it. « For people that can’t move their legs, it’s very hard because you can only balance with your arms. »
The Māoï’s test: a unique experience for Sonia
In May 2018, Sonia is proposed to test Māoï, the HUD dive computer. First feeling anxiety (she was scared to lose the prototype) and feeling skeptical about the fact to have information in the field of vision, Sonia was finally seduced by her experience with the prototype: “I was convinced by the product that carry on by itself the information according to your dive step.” Her apprehensions about the head-up display were quickly forgotten: “A quick look up allows you to see your dive parameters. The remaining time, your eyes are focused on your dive, right in front of you. You do not feel discomfort, on the contrary, Māoï is more convenient to use than a classical dive computer.”
When we ask her if she thinks that Māoï could significantly help disabled divers, Sonia answers that she is « totally convinced of that ». Indeed, Sonia reminds us that disabled divers, who can’t move their legs, are fully dependent of their arms to balance their « kicking »: « To balance, to move towards a direction or to stabilize, we have to use our arms. If we have to check the parameters on a wrist dive computer, we are then forced to stop all our movements, and this can affect our balance (particularly during dive stops) ».
In this context, Māoï greatly simplifies the situation: information is brought to the diver, directly in front of him, whenever he wants it. A true improvement in comfort, that allows disabled divers to make the most of each dive without neglecting safety.
Thus, Sonia was absolutely thrilled by her Māoï’s experience. As far as we are concerned, we are delighted that our innovation can make scuba diving easier for all!
We hope that many new divers and disabled divers will be able to try our prototypes. To be part of our next testers, please stay connected and subscribe to our newsletters and mailings. Then you will be kept informed about the next trial sessions 😉
Thanks to: Sonia Ourcival for her testimony and pictures, GASM dive center of Quimper for welcoming us for the session and to Pierre Tafani for taking in charge all the test sessions in Brittany, France.