After Tom Agapiades lost a friend to a preventable drowning accident, he was galvanized into action. A lot of victims of drowning had access to a life jacket but didn’t put it on. He came up with the smallest auto-inflating flotation device known to man. His Indiegogo campaign was seeking $65,000 to bring this new concept in water safety to the public; it launched today and has already crushed it.
For people 6 years and older, the Kingii fits around the wrist and at the pull of a lever inflates into something like a floatie in one second. A floatie for giants, anyway, since the Kingii is buoyant enough to work for people over 275 pounds, even though it weighs just under 5 ounces. It uses compressed air canisters (CO2), much like the kind you’d use to inflate a bike tire out on the road, but not identical. The canisters are uniquely designed to fit the Kingii, so you can’t just go buy a standard one from a sporting goods store. The canister screws in to an enclosed plastic retainer to keep it secure.
When you don’t need the flotation balloon, you can roll it up into its silicone pouch alongside the whistle. The bright orange of the bag helps with visibility — flotation devices are usually in bright colors to make them easier to spot — and the whistle, as an auditory aid, can help bring rescuers to anyone with the breath to blow it. Besides the screaming orange and the whistle, Kingii comes with a compass built in to the silicone wrist strap that will help the wearer orient themselves, a convenient feature, emergencies aside.
Kingii will stay inflated for 48 hours, but assuming all is well and you don’t want to keep an inflated orange bag for two days, you can deflate the Kingii by unscrewing the plastic cap and getting rid of the used cartridge. Press the air out of the balloon and fold it up; there are directions printed on the balloon. Pop in a new cartridge and Kingii is good to go again.
Other automatic-inflate life jackets with similar features built in (replaceable CO2, a whistle and a compass) can cost more than $300 (but they also usually include reflective either in fabric or finishes). On the other hand, Kingii hasn’t been approved by watersport racing bodies yet. Some of the Indiegogo campaign funds will be used for certification as an official safety device. They’ll be announcing the stretch goals soon.
The super early bird Kingii package comes with one Kingii and two cylinders for $70. A family pack that comes with five Kingiis and ten cylinders goes for $381. There’s additional shipping costs based on the delivery location and how many Kingiis you want for your perk. After the campaign is over, buyers can head to the Kingii website to get more CO2. They plan to deliver to backers in September.