Dive Computer Validation Procedures

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Dive Computer Validation Procedures

Summary

The results of the Validation of Dive Computers Workshop, convened by the Baromedical
and Environmental Physiology Group of the Norwegian University of Science and
Technology on 24 August 2011 in Gdansk, Poland are reported in this volume. The workshop
objectives were to discuss the validation of dive computers for use by working (commercial
inshore) divers under the control of the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority. A review of
validation procedures of dive tables and dive computers set the stage, followed by
consideration of the applicability of dive computers to commercial diving operations. The
need for standardization of dive computer technology and their classification as European
Union personal protective equipment was discussed. The case was made for well-
documented decompression algorithm testing via man-dives, calibrated against a measurable
risk of decompression sickness. The relative conservatism of dive computers was evaluated
via test chamber profiles, which could be used to identify a test plan for human trials. The
applicability of venous gas emboli as an endpoint in the validation process was debated. The
military, scientific and recreational dive community experiences with dive computer use and
management was reported. It is worth noting that none of the dive computer manufacturers
provide any details as to the inner workings of their models and none have ever performed
any substantial human validation. However, in recreational diving, dive computers have been
used effectively for over 25 years. The workshop advocated that a validated dive computer
would be a useful tool for providing real-time decompression guidance for working divers. It
was recommended that a Configuration Control Board be formed to assess conformance with
validation requirements, monitor dive computer operational performance, and specify diver
education and training.

Keywords: dive computers, algorithm, validation, decompression sickness, endpoints.