Triton Artificial Gills Project Reimburses, Then Relaunches

Back in 2014, a piece of equipment called the Triton artificial gills got a lot of media attention for claiming to be able to filter oxygen from water in the same manner seen in fish gills. While the idea of a highly-compact breathing unit was fascinating, it received much criticism as to its plausibility.

Since then, the project has leapt from the design schematics and onto crowdfunding site Indiegogo, where its creator ran a highly successful campaign. Setting a goal of collecting $50,000, the project quickly reached that and beyond, ending at around $900,000, but not without a lot of controversy. However, the Stockholm-based company that ran the campaign has refused to share any of the technical details of the product, citing “legal reasons,” but without going into detail as to what those legal reasons are.

Skeptics pointed out that the technology required to create the James Bond-looking device simply isn’t available. In order to filter and store enough oxygen from seawater to sustain a human being, the item would need to be much, much larger, and the pressure needed for this to happen would require the user to swim at record-shattering speeds.

Following criticism from several sources, including scientific experts, as well as inquiries from Indiegogo backers, the campaign managers somewhat suddenly decided to refund all $900,000 for having mislead Indiegogo users.

However, they almost immediately re-launched the Indiegogo campaign, with a slightly altered pitch, now claiming that the unit doesn’t simply filter oxygen out of water, but instead contains liquid oxygen, which, in combination with the artificial gills mentioned in the original campaign, allows users to breathe underwater for up 45 minutes. In spite of their previous claims having been debunked, and their original campaign shut down, users are still flocking around the product, which, at time of writing, has gathered a little more than $327,000 in backing.

Buyer beware, however, as the technology they’re describing — whether it’s the liquid-oxygen technology or the micro-porous filters — simply doesn’t exist in the form they’re referring to, experts say. So it’s highly unlikely that this version of the product will hit the market any more than the last one.

Because Indiegogo doesn’t require companies to have a working prototype of their products, it is sometimes very difficult to determine the credibility of the claims in campaigns. But, as the saying goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and with a claim like this one, which would turn everything we know about underwater-breathing technology on its head, the proof should indeed be extraordinary.

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