Drowning is a silent killer. The WHO estimates that it is the third leading cause of involuntary death, with more than 320,000 deaths per year worldwide. Children, males, and individuals with increased access to water are most at risk of drowning. Having prior experience in scuba diving and being an expert in mechanical engineering, Heinz Ruchti, CEO and President of Deep Blue AG, decided to introduce a pioneering product that will act as an extra layer of protection against drowning and will help people to prevent unfortunate accidents.
Founded in 2000, with many years of experience in the marine sector, Deep Blue launched the first drowning prevention system in 2008, the Blue Fox. The latest product BlueFox ST1 is a stand-alone product and doesn’t need any installation. Heinz states, “With BlueFox ST1, we want to help prevent drowning and near-drowning by giving an early alarm when somebody is in trouble.”
Dawn of Deep Blue AG
After his apprenticeship as a precision mechanic engineer, Heinz started his professional career with scuba diving. From a young age in his professional career, Heinz was a passionate inventor and was always happy to be involved in new ideas and their implementation. He followed an out-of-the-box approach and loved to grab new opportunities to explore different things. In the early stages of his career, he founded his own company in the scuba diving industry together with a partner. In this early period, they developed and produced precision mechanical instruments for divers.
He sold his diving company to an American investor and marked the advent of Deep Blue AG. They developed and produced an anchor monitoring system for yachts there in the first few years.
As he progressed further, he realized the nature of the threat to people from drowning. Drowning is silent and invisible! In children, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death. He states, “We saw how many children and adults drown while swimming or bathing, so we decided to use our specific knowledge of underwater technology to develop electronic systems to better protect people from drowning.” As people who swim or play in the water have become cautious about health safety, they realized that it has become highly important to create excellent solutions that will help in monitoring it more precisely. In 2008, they launched the first BlueFox anti drowning system on the market. Moreover, they developed high-tech electronic devices that account for the risks associated with swimming or bathing and warn early if there is a risk of drowning.
Being inspired by the words of the philosopher George Bernard Shaw, “Some people see things as they are and say why, I dream things that never were and ask why not,” Heinz pushes his team to look for innovative ideas and develop better products. Under his leadership, research continued in the domain, and today Deep Blue AG is the global market leader for pressure-based anti-drowning systems.
Winning against all odds
The development department of a company is always a very expensive part. That’s why everyone tries to keep the development time as short as possible in order to save money. There are probably very few developments that were completed in the period specified at the beginning. While developing something new, engineers are quite optimistic about the whole time frame. They don’t realize that there are several things that will affect the overall time frame.
Setbacks are part and parcel of the way to create something new from scratch. There is no escape from it! Heinz states, “In many cases, it is not even the fault of your own team but sometimes depends on the suppliers. In one sentence, a long-term development will always be more expensive than it was originally intended so also in all our developments! In addition, new ideas for new features often come up during the development process, which then also must be integrated.” All these things happen as the process moves forward and affects the whole timeline.
Being a seasoned leader, Heinz believes that a person should always chase one’s dreams irrespective of the circumstances. No doubt, every step will come with different challenges, but one should stay focused and determined and rest only when he climbs to the top. He stresses the point by adding, “My experience with developments shows that you must fight for something new, even if there are setbacks. Never give up and realize your dream, even if it is often painful and expensive. In the end, you will be rewarded with a finished product that is on a new level and unbeatable. If these inventions then save human lives, the satisfaction is even greater!”
Deep Blue AG: Introducing groundbreaking products
Drowning is not the violent splashing call for help that most people expect. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet, silent, and invisible event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental injury-related death among children ages 1 to 14 – a lot of drowning accidents happen close to parents or other adults. The problem is to recognize in time when somebody is drowning. Not only can children drown, but it can also happen to everybody being in the water.
Today the company Deep Blue AG produces various drowning alarm systems, all under the brand name “BlueFox” for commercial pools, hotel and therapy pools, private pools, and water parks.
After getting more and more inquiries from private individuals asking for protection at the beaches, lakes, and all kinds of swimming waters, they have started a completely new development. BlueFox ST1, their new device for people’s individual protection in the water, does not require any installations. The entire anti drowning system is worn on the wrist!
Heinz states, “From a technological point of view, it was a seemingly impossible task when development began. Making an entire alarm system feasible with a combination of micromechanics and microelectronics and packing it in a watch-sized device was a challenge for all parties involved in development. High-precision mechanical parts like those in a Swiss watch are controlled by the smallest available microprocessors and powered by high-performance rechargeable batteries.”
It is now a reality and in full production and ready to protect the people in the water all over the world! The BlueFox ST1 is a masterpiece of Swiss engineering. The team is proud of their work to ensure that these newly developed technologies offer maximum safety for swimmers.
The BlueFox ST1 alarm system supports parents, lifeguards, and people in the vicinity in ensuring that they are completely supervised. These individual BlueFox Systems have a tremendous and significant impact on efforts to reduce preventable drowning.
The company has developed a pool safety system for private owners. Heinz adds, “The Pool Safety System (Private) is a system that can be installed in your pool with which you can guarantee the highest level of safety for you, your loved ones, and your neighbors.” There are two modes of operation, namely active protection, and passive protection.
With active protection, the system monitors swimmers wearing the bracelet, which measures swimming depth and time. It recognizes a possible drowning when the swimmer remains underwater for too long, triggering the alarm.
With passive protection, the system monitors the pool when it is not in use. The sensors installed inside the pool constantly measure the dynamic pressure underwater: in the event that someone falls into the water, the system will immediately trigger the alarm.
For public swimming pools, the company presents its integrated system, which is far more than a drowning prevention system. The whole infrastructure includes a drowning prevention system, an access control system, keys for lockers, and a robust payment system. The drowning prevention system includes sensors that are installed in the pool. These sensors actively monitor swimmers wearing the WU2 bracelet. The possible drowning is detected by the bracelet, which constantly measures the depth and the swimming time. In case a swimmer was to remain underwater for too long, the system would trigger the alarm.
The WU2 bracelet is equipped with an RFID chip with which the facility can be accessed via a turnstile. Once the ticket has been sold, the bracelet will be delivered to the customer, and the RFID code will be associated with the person during the purchase phase, authorizing access. At the end of the day, the customer will deposit the bracelet in the appropriate exit turnstile.
All the customers can use the WU2 bracelets for accessing their lockers and can pay directly in the bars and restaurants that are located in the facility.
Deep Blue AG: Harnessing the power of new technology
Technology is the basis of the success of the company. Heinz expresses, “Innovative new products are our aim. That is why the focus in our company is always to develop new products. Our production machines are the most modern available on the market. This guarantees that our production quality is at a top-level.”
Every single device that leaves the factory has been individually undergoing an intensive test program. All their systems are based on the same principle. They measure the water depth with a pressure sensor, which can be set individually. If the swimmer falls below the pre-programmed depth, a stopwatch runs down, and an alarm is given if the time, which can also be set, is exceeded. This type of surveillance comes closest to the physiology of drowning. Excessively long underwater means the risk of drowning!
The company aims to protect the customers from all the risks associated with drowning and ensure that pure fun does not turn into a tragedy.
Wearing the shoes of the CEO
As the CEO of Deep Blue AG, Heinz has new responsibilities every day. Since he has multiple hats to wear, his schedule keeps on changing as per the varying needs and priorities. He mainly oversees all departments and handles the work of different teams. He shares, “My company is a small entity that allows me to know every little detail. The idea alone is not enough, that’s why I like to do the CAD designs myself, as well as the prototypes through to production.”
The main task of the day involves daily collaboration with Sandra Schneider Ciampini, Director Sales & Marketing and member of the executive board. In these meetings, all the team members working in different departments start merging into one another to understand each other’s perspectives. It is perhaps important to be a small company so that all department heads understand the vision and mission of the whole company.
All the team members with individual characteristics converge together and share their unique traits and strengths with one another. He opines in the fact that this practice is helpful in binding the team together as a united and strong team.
Elated with his team’s progress, he states, “Every single human life that we can save with our BlueFox systems gives me and my team great satisfaction. Likewise, all our workers in the assembly department are happy to contribute something against drowning with their daily work.”
The Ultimate Balance
For Heinz, a balance between personal and professional fronts goes hand in hand. He always keeps his routine set to go to work every morning and come back home in the evening. He knows that to maintain this balance, both private and business sides need to perform well.
Explaining this in detail, he says, “In my private life, I love cooking, barbecuing, and fine natural food with good wine. So, I can rest perfectly and collect my thoughts on new things. These thoughts often go into business and are sometimes the reason for new development. Basically, my job is also my hobby! This makes my work-life balance almost perfect!”
Rise and Shine Ahead
With a collective vision in mind, everyone at Deep Blue AG is striving hard to attain a very bright future ahead of it. With people realizing the dangers in water, the “BlueFox” anti-drowning systems are gaining more recognition owing to their brilliant and advanced technology.
Moreover, he adds, “With our drowning warning systems, we can offer a technology today that will protect thousands of children and adults from drowning in the future. Our goal is to introduce our BlueFox systems to the North American market soon. That is why we are looking for suitable distribution partners or investors.”
He is happy to share his email id (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as company address (Deep Blue AG, Engenbuehl 130, 5705 Hallwil, Switzerland) and website (bluefox-swiss.com) for all those who may want to check out their amazing technology.
Heinz has some pearls of wisdom for all upcoming business leaders as well. According to him, “One should never give up as there is always a new door opening whenever any roadblock comes forward. Just keep on working with the strengths of your team and witness the growth in no time!”