Lifejacket designers integrate new technology with comfort amongst ‘prescriptive’ ISO standards

New fabric technologies are making the integration of beacons, lights and communication equipment into wearable lifejackets possible, meaning faster rescues and potentially more lives saved.

Watch our video to see the life vest that won this year’s Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation – Spinlock’s Deckvest. The company’s marketing manager James Hall explained the new style, saying: “With no significant technical or aesthetic change in lifejackets for over thirty years, we decided to develop the Deckvest.” Its specs include a Pylon Light ( a high intensity, water activated flashing LED), a Lume-On lifejacket bladder and a unique ‘Shoulder Fit System’ which ensures correct fit on shoulders every time.

Spinlock has been part of a two-year European Space Agency (ESA) project to advance personal locator beacon (PLB) signals transmitted to the geostationary satellite network. Currently, both AIS and PLB are needed for accurate location tracking. However, Hall believes the next big innovation will be a device that combines the two for even greater convenience.

It can be a challenge for manufacturers to modernise as rapidly as technology seems to demand whilst meeting SOLAS regulations. Hall said: “The ISO standard produces a very good lifejacket, though it’s very prescriptive. It does not allow for much adoption of new materials, and this holds back development.” However, new advancements show us that innovation is very much possible.

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