“Artificial Gills” to Breathe Underwater Are Being Crowdfunded — but They Might Not Work

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A crowdfunding campaign for a product that claims to allow humans to breathe underwater without the use of scuba equipment has raised over a half million dollars so far. The Triton — “artificial gills” that will work similarly to gills on fish — supposedly allows swimmers to breathe underwater. The project is listed on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo.

“With Triton there’s no heavy equipment, complicated safety procedures or training. It’s easy to use, and no longer than a snorkel,” Triton founders Saeed Khademi and Jeabyun Yeon state on the Indiegogo page. “Gently bite into the mouthpiece, breathe normally, and enjoy a sense of underwater freedom unavailable until now. Just imagine exploring gin-clear waters, alongside tropical fish, without bulky equipment or having to surface for air.”

The artificial gills are actually made of microporous hollow fiber, which are lined with threads with tiny holes that allow oxygen to pass through so divers can breathe. The website says that users can dive for about 45 minutes, at depths of about 15 feet.

However, there are some individuals who believe that we are still far away from being able to breathe underwater without scuba gear, and that the Triton product may potentially be dangerous.

“The device shown cannot work as described (and even if it did, it would be extremely dangerous), there is simply too little dissolved gas in water to allow the principle to work in any practical way,” one poster wrote on Metabunk, a discussion forum dedicated to discussing and debating scientific topics. “Note that the device is specifically claimed to allow a person to breathe comfortably, not that it performs any other more obscure actions to deliver metabolically required [oxygen]and remove [carbon dioxide]from the body.”

The project has raised over $600,000 on Indiegogo.

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