HOLDING WATER: Year-old Aquabotix specializes in marine technology, including the Hydro View. Pictured above, from left are: computer engineer Jacob Fernandes, computer engineer Brian Louro and President Durval Tavares.
PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
By Rebecca Keister PBN Staff Writer
Durval Tavares isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, but in the world of marine technology he’s coming close and hopes his modification on underwater video equipment will receive the kind of innovation-inspired excitement from buyers that he has for his product.
Judging from early reactions, he’s succeeding.
“We’ve seen a lot of excitement for the product,” Tavares said. “Not only in the marine market, but also in government for homeland-defense issues. We’re reinventing what a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) is, to make it fun and affordable.”
Tavares is talking about the Hydro View, which his year-old company, Aquabotix, rolled out in April to early raves and international attention.
Hydro View is a remote-operated, underwater vehicle that streams high-definition video back to the water’s surface.
It is controlled via wireless communication from a user’s handheld device, such as an iPad, iPhone, Android phone or laptop computer.
It’s the second of two products Aquabotix has produced since Tavares’ dreams and ideas turned into the real deal.
A native of Portugal, he emigrated to the United States as a 10-year-old when his family resettled in Fall River. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 1981.
Tavares then entered into a 20-year post at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, leaving there to work in product development for Fidelity Investments.
After that, he went to work for the U.S. Navy building underwater vehicles until a lunch date with his friend George Dechambeau, a sailor, inspired a life change.
“[George] went around the world on his sailboat and said he wished he could see what was happening under his boat [and] that’s where we came up with the first two product ideas,” Tavares said. “I left the Navy [when] I had a vision. We wanted to help people visualize and experience the underwater world. I felt the best way to do that would be to create a product that would be reachable and affordable.”
Funding, he said, had to be drawn from his social circle – namely his friends and families. They, who remain co-owners as original investors, along with a loan from the Fall River Office of Economic Development, helped generate a little over $1 million in start up funds.