French Polynesia is in the heart of approximately 180 million square kilometers (112 million sq. mi) of the vastest ocean on the planet, the Pacific Ocean. Living in our islands means to be in constant contact with the lagoon and the sea. As such, the fate of Polynesians has been structured around water since their ancestors decided to traverse this immense expanse of ocean to discover faraway lands. Still today, the daily life of the population and the local economy revolve around the sea such as with fishing, pearl culture, sports, transportation, and leisure water activities. The sea is also the only way to access a good part of the 118 islands that make up French Polynesia. In addition, it is the base of our tourism. Therefore, many questions surround the Pacific Ocean, including in regards to technologies that can facilitate human submersion into the sea, have finally started to make advances after little development over the past few decades. On another note, science sets out to conquer space even though we hardly know the marine areas surrounding us, despite the fact they comprise the largest part of the earth’s surface…
The team includes numerous scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, physiologists and deep-sea divers passionate about technology and diving who share a similar goal. HUS representatives are also in contact with the French Polynesian Ministry of Research and have received support from a number of scientific institutions, engineering schools and universities around the world. The Human Underwater Society will embark on an original project—they will build the HUS Institute, a center based simultaneously on land and underwater, in a lagoon on the island of Tahiti. This institute will be designed as a true emulation center with the goal of attracting talent from all over the world. It revolves around a group of technology and science projects for the general public dedicated to the underwater and marine world and that will highlight submersion themes in six categories: activities of islander populations; Arts and cosmogonies of ocean peoples; water recreational activities; immersive digital environments; maritime economy and science, industry and health. This approach will combine play and science, wonder and knowledge, culture and economy.
French Polynesia as hub for scientific development
HUS will enable French Polynesia to position itself as a country of reference in this field. Events, seminars, symposiums, engineering competitions and discussion clubs will serve to connect experts, entrepreneurs and other people involved in the project in order to research funding resources. The HUS center will embody blue engineering, which generates growth and employment, and will become the technology showcase of French Polynesia. This complex will be a world-class center for advanced research open to the public with independent leadership and environmentally transparent and neutral research topics. It will attract international start-ups, help Polynesian entrepreneurs, improve offered tourism products and monitor the surrounding underwater ecosystem. The institute will complement tourist offerings in French Polynesia through providing a new landmark to the world and bringing the country’s ambitions to fruition through appropriating these technologies and developing a unique expertise.
Learning to master this environment could bring solutions to major issues of the 21st century, such as population growth and rising water levels caused by climate change. Mass migrations could be avoided with the development of appropriate technologies. In the future, humankind’s dependency on the underwater environment will increase. By developing new human submersion technologies, we could embark on a discovery of the underwater world and all the possibilities that will be offered to us in this still unfamiliar space. These conclusions originated in Tahiti in 2011 during the creation of an original project known as the Human Underwater Society (HUS), an international non-profit organization. For the past four years, Olivier Archambaud has been developing this project, which is the first of its kind in our islands. As a professional scuba diver, this entrepreneur chose to settle in French Polynesia in 2006 to live his passion on a daily basis in the Tuamotu Islands where lagoons are resplendent with exceptional underwater fauna, attracting divers from all over the world. Archambaud decided to create HUS with the ambitious intention of advancing research and development in the field of submersive technologies; especially through improving the capacity for humankind to engage in subaquatic immersion. These advances will use all types of nautical activities and this is why a famous name in French Polynesian surfing, Raimana Van Bastolaer, also chose to be onboard with this project.
The HUS Institute is an international multidisciplinary experimentation center open to students, engineers, scientists, developers and young entrepreneurs, thus offering a means of support throughout its network. Intended to welcome the public, its proximity to the underwater environment is essential for testing all conceptualized technologies. The initial idea—to improve scuba diving—has rapidly evolved into broader challenges with many bridges towards other disciplines and issues.
Research over the capacity for individual human submersion depends on physical wellbeing, an acute sense of perception and interaction, freedom of development, a habitat and transportation. Olivier Archambaud announced that for this purpose, HUS gives particular importance to the concepts of connected technologies such as “sensors, new materials, tools for monitoring the physiological data of divers and the environment as well as systems to produce and store gas, energy and drinking water that will intelligently combine new generation respirators and masks, amphibious homes…” The HUS Research and Development program is already organizing meetings between experts to launch “think-tanks that will identify the most promising technologies to be implemented into these new concepts and connect them to all their key players.” Competitions have already been organized, such as the HUS prize which aims to reward innovation in design, engineering, media and education surrounding themes of humankind and underwater habitats and transportation.
The economy, tourism and ecology will therefore profit from the positive effects of these achievements. Besides taking advantage of these benefits and developed technologies, local people can also learn about science and the ecosystem. The HUS Institute will house a public awareness center as well as a technology and applied science training center. Consequently, Polynesians and tourists alike will benefit fully from this expertise, allowing them to enjoy the depths of the lagoon and the ocean while respecting this exceptional environment. The Human Underwater Society project is still in its infancy, and its team is ready to develop this initiative to turn French Polynesia into a major center for scientific research. To support it, it is possible to make donations and become a HUS patron or partner through humanunderwatersociety.org. This will initiate change in the short-term. It is a new conquest for space, a visionary quest—and always with respect for humankind and the ecosystem.
Delphine Muzeau Roux de Badilhac
HUS is supported by Cluster Maritime of French Polynesia, Chambre de Commerce et des Métiers de Polynésie Française (The French Polynesian Chamber of Commerce and Careers), l’École de l’Innovation de Paris l’ESIEE (The Paris School of Innovation), l’Institut Français de la Mer-IFM (the French Maritime Institute), the ORPHY laboratory from the Université de Brest, Dive Alert Network foundation (DAN), la Société des Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France (The Society of Engineers and Scientists of France) and l’Association le 9ème Continent (the 9th Continent Association).
Our most recent initiatives:
HUS Workshop Paris – Jan 2015 (Delegation from French Polynesia)
HUS-Tahiti Meetings – Nov 2015 (CCICM-Taaone Hospital)
HUS Workshop in Los Angeles Nov 2015 (French Consulate)
HUS PRIZE Design and Engineering Competition 2016-2017 edition – Oct 2016
HUS Workshop Plongeur Instrumenté (Instrumented Diver) École de l’ESIEE Paris – Nov. 2016