High-quality seafloor monitoring requires high-quality gear and we are continuously developing our underwater satellite hardware solution, the DiveRay. The device has gone through numerous iterations and upgrades - on a journey to always become more intuitive for the user and offer a seamless experience of seafloor monitoring.

Working on the hardware development of the Underwater Satellite. Image: planblue

The first prototype of the DiveRay 2019 was developed to be handy and sturdy during fieldwork. Its portable size was optimized for transportation. Every essential part of gear (e.g. mainbody, cameras, monitor) was integrated into one housing to make the DiveRay a ready-to-use product in the field. External components such as physical buttons were firmly fixed, enabling divers to operate our underwater satellite in a stable manner while diving.

To enable tracking of the local position of the diver, first prototype of the Underwater Satellite was already equipped with a navigation system, displaying precise geo-referenced data.

After multiple testing campaigns and user research we developed the second prototype in 2021. Several upgrades made this version a lot more user-friendly. For one, the internal structure was optimized. In order to replace or update the internal components more efficiently, they were mounted directly to the housing of the second prototype to allow an organized arrangement of cables. The inner components were simplified altogether to avoid clutter. For example, now a sole camera holder houses all three cameras, ensuring better alignment and stability between the devices.

Along with the improvement of the internal structure, we also upgraded the exterior design. Any previously protruding parts of the DiveRay are now integrated into the housing to prevent possible intrusion of water during fieldwork. In addition, users can easily replace the battery with two clicking clutches. The second prototype is equipped with more robust buttons and handles that provide a solid grip for divers, allowing an easy and stable handling underwater.

In addition to the previously installed navigation system, the second prototype has now also been set up with an improved GNSS reception, making the geo-referenced data even more precise and allowing for accurate positioning of diver and data in our software tools, the FieldGuide and SeafloorAtlas.

The second prototype of the DiveRay. Image: Tobias Winkelmann / planblue

The DiveRay is already designed to soon be mounted onto underwater robots and we are continuously upgrading it with state-of-the-art technology, such as high-resolution cameras and navigation sensors. We are pursuing an even simpler infrastructure and an optimized user experience, so any diver can efficiently operate and use the device. For the convenience of fieldwork planning, we will improve the function of diver guidance in the DiveRay’s user interface. It will enable divers to mark the area they want to scan and pre-compute the transects before the fieldwork. During the dive they will then be guided by the map on the LCD monitor, ensuring that all the planned data is collected, and no area is missed.

The next prototype is already in the making and planned to be released later in 2022.

Happy founders testing our second prototype of the Underwater Satellite. Image: planblue