Near-death experience gives rise to idea for divers’ distress bracelet; concept takes top prize in 3-Day Startup (3DS) entrepreneurship contest
Omer Arad, a student in the Faculty of Computer Science at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, was on a routine dive when he had one of the most terrifying experiences of his life.
“More than 80 feet below sea level, a malfunction prevented the airflow from the tank to the regulator in my mouth,” said Arad. “In an instant one of my favorite hobbies turned into a genuine nightmare. I tried to signal my buddy, but he was far away and wasn’t looking in my direction. Luckily, I came out of it alive.”
The experience led Arad to conceptualize a wearable panic bracelet that lets the diver call his partner even when there is no eye contact between them. The idea earned his team first place at this year’s “3-Day Startup (3DS)” competition, held at the Technion, and organized by the university’s Bronica Entrepreneurship Center.
Dubbed “BLU,” the wearable distress bracelet would be sold in pairs, to be worn by the diver and his diving buddy. A simple press of a button immediately transmits a distress signal – via light and vibration – to the other diver.
“Our mission was to make the diving world safer,” said Arad. “Hundreds of divers die in diving accidents every year, and the currently available solutions for transmitting a distress signal are inadequate, very expensive and designed for professional divers.”
Other members of the BLU team were Aviv Tahar and Oz Meir from the Technion; Manik Arora and Bernadette Che, from Johns Hopkins University; Orit Dolev, a graduate of Shenkar College of Engineering and Design.
This year’s 3DS competition included 45 students from various faculties, selected through a rigorous screening process. Divided into nine teams (“startups”), the students worked with mentors from industry – venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, marketing and business development professionals – and each team presented their concept to a panel of professional investors from leading venture capital funds, including Glilot Capital, AfterDox and the Alon Incubator. The first- and second-place teams earned entries to BizTEC, the Technion’s renowned national student entrepreneurship competition.