It’s definitely interesting that the Talmud commands parents to teach their children to swim. The challenge is, that even for those who know how, including adults, many people still drown due to various external reasons beyond their control with around 263,000 people drowning every year according to the World Health Organization.
An Israeli father, a former fighter pilot turned engineer and high-tech engineer, Noam Shani, decided to tackle this threat after his 25-year old son almost drowned while swimming in the ocean due to freak currents around six years ago. His solution? A wearable buoyancy device that could be worn on a swimmer’s wrist and looks like a tennis player’s sweatband. Weighing just 20 grams or less than ¾ of an ounce, it can inflate in seconds into a foil balloon filled with eight liters of hydrogen foam that can keep an average sized adult (85 kilograms or 187 pounds) afloat until help arrives.
The two main challenges in development were 1-making it stylish and unobtrusive enough that people would wear it and 2-trying to develop the right chemical process that would take up less space and still be effective in saving lives. Together with two other Israeli entrepreneurs, Eldad Erel and Omri Dagan, they opened their company Neomare in 2021 and together they set out to find the right chemical reaction to make the device work. After working with Israeli labs and an international advisory team they were successful, and their product, LifeSaver was created.
Although the chemicals used are not proprietary, the combination is and Neomare has patented the combination. The device uses 8 grams of chemicals and a 12 gram balloon that can hold the eight liters of foam created by the chemical process. The device inflates in 20 seconds and is by design a one-time use product. There are some competing products in the field, but they are much larger and less fashionable, something Neomare believes will prevent their target audience (under 30 years old) from adapting and using them.
At the moment Neomare is a small startup and is focused on selling direct to consumers rather than via middlemen. Starting in September 2024, LifeSaver will be available in stores worldwide for $59 and the company projects to build one million of them in the first year. As Eldad Erel says, the company’s return on investment (ROI) will be measured in lives saved. Given that drowning and near-drowning are a leading cause of death in children and young people, which can also leave survivors with long-term brain and lung damage, LifeSaver is a solution to an age-old problem that will for sure be welcomed by swimmers, and their parents, everywhere.
Once again, Israel’s Startup nation steps in to literally save the day!