Kingii - An Answer to Drowning Deaths

Interesting Engineering
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According to the World Health Organization, there are over 370,000 accidental drownings annually, worldwide; that makes drowning the 3rd leading cause of accidental death. The WHO goes on to note that this figure "may be significantly underestimated." Males and children are especially at risk, and low to middle income countries account for 91% of those deaths. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 88% of drowning victims in the United States weren't wearing a life jacket. With that in mind, a reliable, relatively inexpensive anti-drowning device could make a huge difference. Enter the Kingii, (pronounced ken-gee), a small, wrist worn water safety device that may be an answer to those drowning deaths.

Kingii buoyancy device[Image Source: Kingii]

The Kingii is the brainchild of Tom Athanasios, an entrepreneur with several patents under his name related to automotive technology. After a close friend drowned, Athanasios turned his considerable inventor's skills toward a solution. With the stats regarding life jacket use first in mind, he set out to make a small, unobtrusive device, designed so that folks would actually wear it. In June of 2014, he filed a U.S. Patent for the Kingii.


[Image Source: Kingii]

At just under 5 ounces in weight, the device is very light. Kingii is fundamentally composed of two components, the CO2 charge/activator, and a small box that holds the flotation balloon; it's about the size of a 3" x 5" card and about an inch thick. The company notes that the "one size fits most" design is suitable for children 6 years and up in age. Kingii has been tested to provide viable buoyancy for adults as heavy as 275 pounds.

Kingii Buoyancy device

[Image Source: Kingii]

When ready to use, the device is armed by inserting a proprietary CO2 cartridge into a dedicated housing. It's then attached to the wearer by a dive watch style wrist strap. The wearer activates the Kingii by pulling up on a small lever on top of the housing for the CO2 cartridge; the device inflates fully in less than a second, and up you go.



[Image Source: Kingii]

Perhaps most impressive in this throw away age, the Kingii is reusable. After being triggered, one simply removes the spent CO2 cartridge, expels all the air out of the bag, then refolds and packs the bag back into its housing according to instructions printed on the bag itself. With a fresh cartridge inserted, the device is good to go once again.


[Image Source: Kingii]

Kingii is currently in the late stages of a fundraising campaign to bring the device fully to market, (anticipated for August of this year). Devices can currently be bought through their campaign website on Prices start at US$69 for a single unit and 2 spare cartridges, and run all the way up to US$1,399 for 20 units plus 40 spare cartridges. I was not able to find any information regarding retail prices once the units are in production. The viability of the concept is clearly demonstrated by the overwhelming success of the campaign thus far; Kingii's initial goal of US$65,000 has been far surpassed; they've raised slightly over US$416,000 to date.

With a device this promising and a hugely successful funding campaign, it would be a wonderful thing if the company were able to find a way to get the Kingii to the parts of the world where it is most needed, at an affordable price.



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