Human existence has always been about discovery, and a team of Hope College students want to put the adventure of exploration back in your hands with help from their new underwater drone, Fathom.
Designed for a broad-range of consumer use, Fathom is easy-to-use and controlled from a smartphone or smart device while displaying a live video feed on the screen.
Creators Matt Gira, Danny Vessells, John Boss and Matt Webb are seniors at Hope and have been working with the Center for Faithful Leadership (CFL) for the past year to make Fathom a reality. CFL operates co-curricular, interdisciplinary programs at Hope College that help students discern their gifts and calling, prepare for work and transition from college. One of those is the CFL Incubator, which helps students explore what it means to be an entrepreneur.
“What makes us unique is that we don’t study entrepreneurship academically," said CFL director Steve VanderVeen. “In our entrepreneurship class, we experience the start-up process and learn more about ourselves and our ideas. In short, we give students the experience of doing it. That’s followed by structured support for select students: coaching, mentoring, peer cohorts. We treat these students like employees whose job description is to validate and develop their ideas."
Fathom is currently planned to launch in September.
"Fathom is a drone that allows for any boater, diver, research team or curious individual to explore the waters around them," Gira says.
The team came up with the idea a year ago with the realization that while smartphone-controlled air drones are currently popular, a user-friendly underwater version did not exist.
“70 percent of our world is covered by water, except we’ve only explored 5% of our oceans. With easier access with Fathom, our hope is that this inspires others to take charge and explore,” Boss says.
Fathom was one of six teams accepted into Emerge Xcelerate, a business accelerator based out of Grand Rapids; which funded them $20,000 to help with prototyping and marketing.