‘Artificial gills’ maker relaunches Indiegogo campaign amidst controversy

Last month, Triton, a start-up claiming to have created "artificial gills" that let divers breathe for up to 45 minutes underwater, launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, and amassed nearly $1 million in funding. Three days ago, it fully refunded all of its backers, canceled that campaign, issued an update and proof of concept video, and then launched a new campaign. The issue? It seems Triton’s claims that its simplistic-looking "rebreather" could filter out enough oxygen from water using filtration alone were shaky at best and came under scrutiny from scientists who dismissed the highly desirable tech as fictitious. According to one researcher, in order for the Triton to properly work and extract gaseous oxygen, it’d need to have an inbuilt pump push a large amount of water through its filters. That’s not something swimming alone could achieve.

Triton’s since responded by somewhat clarifying how its diving tech works, saying only that it relies on a combination of the microporous hollow fiber filters in its "gills" and replaceable liquid oxygen cylinders to deliver breathable oxygen. The start-up’s holding back any further specifics of how its tech works due to intellectual property concerns. And while that certainly doesn’t clear up any of the confusion or skepticism surrounding the project, it definitely hasn’t slowed enthusiasm from backers. To date, the relaunched campaign has raised just under $250,000, blowing past its modest $50,000 goal. The "gills," which are priced at $299 for backers and are set to hit retail at $399, are currently slated to ship this December. Just don’t hold your breath.

Source: Ars Technica, Indiegogo

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