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This is the Survival Capsule, a sphere-like tethered ball that can ride on the surface of water and keep people protected from natural disasters like tsunamis.

After the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, Julian Sharpe started thinking about ways to help people survive similar disasters. As CEO of a Seattle aerospace engineering consultancy, he started applying the same principals from his day job to a personal safety system designed to keep people safe during a tsunami.

survivalcapsule212But those ideas remained just that — ideas — until March 2011, when another mother nature caused havoc again, this time in Japan.

“We realized we needed to do something,” Sharpe says in the video above.

Fast forward two years later, and Sharpe has come a long way. He’s led development on something called the Survival Capsule, a sphere-like tethered ball that can ride on the surface of water and keep people protected from water, fire and debris for days.

The company manufacturing the product is called Survival Capsule LLC, a subsidiary of IDEA International, based in Mukilteo, Wash. about 30 minutes north of Seattle. After two years of intense prototype testing — we’re talking crushing, heating and piercing the crap out of the thing — Sharpe and his team have delivered their first Survival Capsule to a Japanese company called Toho Mercantile Co.

That capsule has room for just two, but the company plans on manufacturing four-person, six-person, eight-person and ten-person options in the future.


The bright-orange capsules — easily distinguishable for rescue — come with safety seating, GPS, windows, air ventilation vents, a door, internal light, and storage space for food, water and supplies. Its spherical shape makes it difficult to be compressed or lodged amongst debris, and the tether and winch allow it to follow water depth.

survivalcapsule2122Sharpe, a former Boeing engineer, says that modern day early warning systems can save anywhere up to 90 percent of the population, while the final 10 percent “most likely will perish.”

“In order to get that 10 percent down to one or two percent, the capsule is an option,” he said. “It’s an option that gives people more control of their survival.”

The capsules currently sell for $12,000-to-$15,000, but that’s expected to drop as demand rises. This brochure provides more detailed information about the product that could end up saving lives when disaster strikes again.

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