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Wearable Devices in Diving: Scoping Review
JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth. 2022, V. 10, n. 9, e35727
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Background: Wearables and their benefits for the safety and well-being of users have been widely studied and have had an enormous impact on the general development of these kinds of devices. Yet, the extent of research into the use and impact of wearable devices in the underwater environment is comparatively low. In the past 15 years, there has been an increased interest in research into wearables that are used underwater, as the use of such wearables has steadily grown over time. However, there has so far been no clear indication in the literature about the direction in which efforts for the design and construction of underwater wearable devices are developing. Therefore, the analysis presented in this scoping review establishes a good and powerful basis for the further development and orientation of current underwater wearables within the field. Objective: In this scoping review, we targeted wearable devices for underwater use to make a comprehensive map of their capabilities and features and discuss the general direction of the development of underwater wearables and the orientation of research into novel prototypes of these kinds of devices. Methods: In September 2021, we conducted an extensive search for existing literature on 4 databases and for grey literature to identify developed prototypes and early-stage products that were described and tested in water, could be worn and interacted with (eg, displays, buttons, etc), and were fully functional without external equipment. The studies were written in English, came from peer-reviewed academic sources, and were published between 2005 and 2021. We reviewed each title and abstract. The data extraction process was carried out by one author and verified by another author. Results: In total, 36 relevant studies were included. Among these, 4 different categories were identified; 18 studies dealt primarily with safety devices, 9 dealt with underwater communication devices, 7 dealt with head-up displays, and 2 dealt with underwater human-computer interaction approaches. Although the safety devices seemed to have gained the most interest at the time of this study, a clear trend toward underwater communication wearables was identified. Conclusions: This review sought to provide a first insight into the possibilities and challenges of the technologies that have been used in and for wearable devices that are meant for use in the underwater environment. Among these, underwater communication technologies have had the most significant influence on future developments. Moreover, a topic that has not received enough attention but should be further addressed is human-computer interaction. By developing underwater wearables that cover 2 or more of the technology categories that we identified, the extent of the benefits of such devices can be significantly increased in the future.
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