I wasn’t going to review Triton Gills, currently racking up $700,000+ on IndieGogo. I hate being the wettest of wet blankets when it comes to new ocean innovations and I’m much happier boosting the profile of good, scientifically sound, ocean projects. But I was curious about Triton after a few journalists asked me to comment about it. On their Facebook page, I asked them to respond to the following articles:
- People have spent more than $600K on electronic ‘gills’ that experts say are science fiction
- Artificial Gills To Breathe Underwater: A Million Dollar Scam?
Both of which raise important, salient questions and concerns voiced by experts in the field, including the research director of the Divers’ Alert Network, our friend Al Dove at Deep Sea News, and myself.
Their response? They deleted the comment and banned the Southern Fried Science account from their page.
I was willing to write Triton off as a team of hopeful idealists and wish them well on their quixotic quest. I’m certainly not one to audit what other people choose to support through crowdfunding. It’s always a gamble, and that’s fine. But now, having dug far more deeply into their proposal than I ever wanted to, I’m no longer willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Triton Gills is almost certainly a scam.
Here are the four biggest red flags:
1. No engineers on the team. The team consists of a designer, an entrepreneur, and a self-professed “marketing genius”. Not only do they not have an engineer on staff, they’re actively trying to recruit a ” technician in marine technology”. So who is building this game-changing device?
2. No demo videos worth their salt. 30 second clips edited together aren’t worth a damn. Where’s the video of someone sitting calmly on the floor of a pool while breathing through the prototype they claim to have, even for just a fraction of the advertised 45 minutes?
3. Magical tech claims. I don’t believe that artificial gills are impossible. I do believe that these folks didn’t crack that nut. Their explanation for how their device works suggests barely a passing familiarity with physics. The articles above do a good job taking them to task. To summarize:
4. Profound aversion to criticism. Look, if you have a revolutionary device that defies our current understanding of physics, you should be tackling your critics head on, not skirting the issue and making weak-sauce excuses about patent applications. Reach out to tech journalist and let them demo the device. Reputable companies don’t hide behind vague excuses while dismissing every critique with bloated copy that says nothing.
Triton Gills is almost certainly a scam. If they somehow magically do have a working prototype and actually fulfill their crowdfunding promise within a few months of their promised ship date, I’ll eat my regulator.
Update #1: Diver and all around excellent guy John Sexton reports that his comments have also been deleted and his profile blocked.
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