We've all been there: Someone offers you a bulky, bright orange life vest and you politely decline. You know how to swim, you tell yourself. Plus, it would look pretty dorky.
But according to the the United States Coast Guard, 82 percent of people who drowned in 2013 weren’t wearing a life preserver. The World Health Organization estimates that 370,000 people drown every year.
A handy piece of wearable technology aims to reduce that number by changing the image of -- and your attitude toward -- life preservers.
Still in its fundraising stage, the Kingii -- named after a lizard that opens the orange fringe around its neck when it feels threatened -- is a wrist-mounted buoyancy aid.
If you're wearing a Kingii and find yourself struggling in the water, a simple yank of the lever on your wrist releases a carbon dioxide cartridge, inflating a small orange pouch that helps you float in the water.
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Kingii's founder, a California-based insurance agent named Tom Agapiades, says he realized the need for an alternative life preserver after a close friend of his drowned in a lake a few years ago.
"I couldn’t sleep for days," he told The Huffington Post. "I had to come up with something."
"If you're on land and you crash your bike, you might scrape up your knee," he said. "But if you make a mistake in the water, you pay with your life."
The reusable device weighs just under 5 ounces, and is designed to not get in the way of people who like water-based activities such as boating, surfing, fishing and stand-up paddleboarding. It comes with a whistle and compass in case you’re lost at sea, and Agapiades says its size makes it a good fit for a wide range of people, from kids who may not have constant adult supervision to elderly people who are more at risk for unpredictable circulation and cramping problems.
Agiapiades hopes to have the final product shipped to funders by late August or September. Afterward, it will retail at Amazon and other merchants for $89.99.