We've seen mermaid-type monofins before, and we've also seen so-called underwater scooters. A group of US/UK entrepreneurs has gone and combined the two, in the form of a monofin that gives swimmers an electric boost with each kick.
Known as the Amphi, the prototype device was initially developed by Dr. Marek Swoboda, a Polish biomedical engineer now living in the United States. It incorporates a flexible fiberglass fin, a quick-release mechanism for the user's cycling-shoe-clad feet, and a battery-powered thruster that's located on the fin, between their ankles.
As the user swims, an integrated IMU (inertial measurement unit) detects each of their two-legged kicks, and responds by triggering the thruster to deliver a shot of extra propulsion. Before setting out, (using an app) the user can wirelessly adjust the sensitivity of the IMU, determining how much of a kick is needed to activate the thruster. They're also able to adjust the amount of time that the thruster stays on after each kick.
The current 10-lb (4.5-kg) version of the Amphi is claimed to deliver up to 30 lb (13.6 kg) of thrust, taking "an average person" up to a top swimming speed of 3 knots (3.5 mph or 5.6 km/h). Plans call for the next prototype to reach 5 knots (5.8 mph or 9.3 km/h), with the final commercial version being capable of around 9 knots (10.4 mph or 16.7 km/h).
According to its designers, even in its present form, the device is half the weight of existing underwater scooters that offer comparable thrust. Additionally, unlike most of them, it leaves the user's hands free. Its battery life ranges from a stated 45 minutes to two hours per charge, depending on how much assistance the device is set to provide.
The Amphi will be the subject of a crowdfunding campaign beginning next month, which interested parties can be notified about by registering via the link below. It is hoped that a final product will be available next summer (Northern Hemisphere), priced between US$2,500 and $2,800. Buyers will also have the option of adding an environmental "MyGaya" sensor that collects data such as water temperature and salinity, then shares it with marine ecologists.
You can see the Amphi in use, in the following video.
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