Swimming with sharks has become a whole lot safer thanks to a wetsuit that allows humans to go virtually unnoticed.
Glenfield-based apparel and textile company FOB Direct is behind a trailblazing fabric that masks the energy given off by humans.
The fabric is made of a tiny interlocking carbon yarn grid and has already been knitted into wetsuits and hunting gear marketed by US company HECS Stealthscreen. It is being monitored by the US Department of Defence for its Navy Seals.
FOB director Warren Bird says he developed the fabric when approached three years ago by a US inventor.
The product uses a Faraday Cage - an enclosure made of conducting material that blocks static and electric fields.
Mr Bird says the fabric reduces human energy output by up to 90 per cent, making it difficult for animals to sense humans.
"People talk about the sixth sense. When someone walks up behind you and you immediately sense there's someone there.
"Animals are much more in tune with this. They have a hugely strong sense to pick up energy and they rely on this in the wild," Mr Bird says.
He says hunters are able to get within metres of their prey when wearing the HECS Stealthscreen.
Live shark tests in the Bahamas have proved the fabric is also successful at reducing sharks' electro reception.
"Sharks are one of the most sensitive species. During the live tests scientists wore wetsuits bonded with the fabric and there was a noticeable difference in the shark's behaviour.
"They were a lot less aggressive and at times barely noticed the scientists were there," Mr Bird says.
"We are not saying it's shark protection.
"Animals are animals there's always that unpredictability. But we will say that if you are wearing our fabric and your friend is not, if a shark is going to attack then it will most likely go for your friend and not you.
"Initially we came up against a lot of negative reaction. People thought it was the whole snake oil, witchcraft rubbish. But that negativity is gone now and the technology is much more accepted."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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