The steady march of under-water progress has seen some different concepts for man underwater. One early prediction was that the entire body should be encased in heavy material to protect from the eat sapping conductivity of water. Later this changed with recreational diving as neoprene wetsuits became popular. With the 1980s heralding the introduction of the drysuit into the mainstream dive community things stayed as they were until the 21st century.
A hybrid of the wetsuit/drysuit is seen by many as the next step in the evolution of thermal protection. It is often a complaint that splendid though the drysuit is at keeping a diver warm in cold water, the air-space problems, boyancy considerations and other nuances can detract from its value. Likewise a wetsuit can be extremely versitile and user-friendly to use but suffers from loss of thermal insulation at depth and lacks the warmth of a dry-suit. Even the often trumpeted semi-dry falls short with the warmth factor only boosted marginally.
A brilliant idea now taking form commercially is the mainstream introduction of battery heated 'Jackets'. This thermal material operates similar to a radiator and wraps around the torso over the wetsuit. Commercial divers have and continue to use 'hot water suits' which operate on a similar principle. But these 'heat jackets' which are smaller and umbilical-independant make fusion of drysuit warmth with wetsuit ease is a reality. Currently the only limitations on this evolution are battery power and that the arms, legs and head are not covered by the 'Heat Jacket'. It is predicted that in the near-future wetsuits will come with these 'built-in'. With advances in battery life hours of warm diving in freezing conditions will be feasible.
Dive Mask - Next Generation
The essential dive mask is moving in totally new directions never even considered years ago. Until recently the dive mask was predominantly in one colour - black. Then came different styles and colours. Actual 'upgraded' masks with built in extras per se did not appear until the beginning of the 21st Century. Internal 'purge' clearance for a flooded mask, wide angle 'big eyes' and side angle viewing ports.
The next generation of cutting edge dive masks will have head-ups display (H.U.D) of water temperature and depth readouts. Known as a HUD Mask it would be a much welcomed dive aid. Also hinted at is the possibility of an internal digital compass. The latest scientific buzz doing the rounds would surely be the most expensive and revolutionary of the Next Gen Masks it will come complete with Thermal Imaging and or Night Vision (Image Intensifier for low level light conditions).
According to military sources though such a wonder dive mask may be restricted for sale in certain countries due to security reasons.