When you drive a car, you put a seat belt on. When you go cycling, you wear a helmet. But unless you’re a kid young enough to swim with inflatable water wings, there is not really an equivalent when you go swimming.
That is what a new Kickstarter campaign for a product called the Ploota wants to change. Ploota is a neck-worn device that deploys airbags filled with CO2, designed to keep a person’s head upright, if they’re under water for more than 30 seconds. Just don’t forget about it and decide to challenge a buddy to a breath-holding contest!
“Back in 2014, two close family members of mine almost drowned in the ocean during a holiday in South Africa,” creator Rainer Fakesch told Digital Trends. “Only with luck and a huge effort did they manage to reach the shore after 30 minutes of struggling. The next year, I read in a German newspaper that during the first two summer weeks, nine people drowned in a lake. They were mostly good swimmers, but they didn’t make it back to the shore. That was the initial spark that made me start developing Ploota.”
According to the World Health Organization, 372,000 people per year die from drowning around the world. That is significantly more than the 265,000 casualties caused by fire and smoke. However, while billions of dollars and countless laws address the importance of making buildings safer in the event of fire, the budget for drowning prevention is virtually zero.
At the time of writing, Ploota is one-fifth of the way toward raising its 50,000 euros ($55,000) funding target, with 44 days remaining.
A single Ploota can be pre-ordered for around $70, although other price tiers are available. The inflating mechanism is achieved using a single-use CO2 cartridge, although these can be easily swapped out. The airbags can also easily be deflated and tucked back inside the casing.
Shipping is set to take place in October.