In 1971 our founder, Alan Uke, started Underwater Kinetics out of his dorm room at UCSD and it has been his labor of love ever since.
In 1974, we were the company that invented the high-powered, small flashlight, revolutionizing the world of hand held lights. Our products continue to deliver the most cutting-edge technology, rugged durability, and superior performance.
Only UK combines long-lasting reliability with ground-breaking design and ideas. We continue to do what we’ve always done best: innovate technology that raises the bar and blazes the path. Smaller. Lighter. Brighter. Better. It’s what we’re all about.
The Self Draining Tank Boot
The first product to make it big for Underwater Kinetics was the Self Draining Tank Boot. Back in 1971, rust was a common problem with standard tank boots. Since there was no way for salt water to drain out, it would eventually corrode and ultimately ruin the tank. To solve this problem, Alan patented a new design that included ribs which allowed trapped water to easily drain away. The new design also helped to prevent tanks from rolling around thanks to it's unique shape.
Super Q - The First High Pressure Halogen Light
If the Tank Boot was a success, then the Super Q-Lite was a runaway hit. In 1974, most dive lights were large and bulky. At 1/10 th the size of every other dive light, the Super Q was the first light to deliver efficient power and a rechargeable battery in such a small package. The Super Q outsold every other dive light in it's second year of production and its patents are used as the backbone of many modern flashlights.
Ahh the 80's...
Not even the world of diving escaped!
In 1982 UK released the Aquasun 1200. This light was well received due to it's ability to literally light up the ocean. The original ran on D cell batteries and had a Halogen bulb.
First Variable Wind Filament Light
In 1983 UK made big strides in the race for creating smaller, brighter lights. We patented a new way to wind the coils of a Xenon bulb to get more output and twice the life than other dive lights. This technology was used on the UK600, UK800, UK1200, D8 and D4 Xenon lights.
1987 Brought forth the first of the heavy duty gear hangers. Keeping your wetsuit off the floor is essential if you want it to dry and not develop nasty odors. The Super Hanger was designed with a patented I-Beam that allowed it to be molded more efficiently and still remain strong. Widely copied, this hanger became the favorite of dive shops around the world.
First Hydralloy Knives - 1994
Previously, there was not a commercially available stainless steel which had a combination of being hard enough to maintain an edge, yet stiff enough for prying, and did not rust in salt water. Our constant quest for perfection lead us to develop a special alloy that combines the best qualities of 316 and 420 steel to produce corrosion resistant blades with great strength and sharpness. We now do custom mill runs of our proprietary steel formula, which not only has different alloy content but also a different heat treating process than other dive knives, making UK knives unique in their performance.
Full Length Blade - 1994
Quality knives are always built with a blade that runs the full length of the knife. This gives you increased strength when using it for prying tasks. Some knives have the blade stop at the handle, resulting in a weak point and most often, a broken knife.
BONUS: All UK knives are easy to disassemble for cleaning without the use of tools!
Built To Stay Corrosion Free
When metal comes in contact with other metal, it conducts electricity and that causes corrosion. Our knives are some of the most durable because we avoid metal to metal contact in our designs.
In the image to the right, you can see the UK knife (top) is designed so that the knife blade and the pommel are separated by a plastic connector thus avoiding any metal-to-metal contact. The competitor's blade (below) attaches directly to the metal pommel which will eventually cause corrosion.
Thermal Recovery System - 2009
Cooling the LED in our smaller light was a challenge we overcame in 2009 with the creation of the Thermal Recovery System.
We all know that starting a car in freezing temperature can be difficult because car batteries produce less power when they are cold. Similarly, the batteries used in flashlights also produce less power when they are cold. That’s why the engineers at UK developed our TRS technology. It works by transferring heat generated by the LED into the battery area by means of an internal metal heat sinks. The result is a cooler LED that burns brighter and warmed batteries that burn longer. This can be essential when used in very cold water or sub-freezing above water temperatures. This feature is still in use today on the SL3.
Twin Lamp Shuttle
Ever have the bulb in your dive light burn out during a dive, then have to return to the boat, open the light and make a replacement?
In 1998 UK introduced the Twin Lamp Shuttle feature which allowed the diver to immediately switch to a backup bulb without ever leaving the water! The locking rotary switch made it easy to select the new bulb and keep it in place.
In rechargeable models, this feature was designed with one bulb serving as a low beam and the other as a high beam.
First LED Dive Light & Side Optics
In 2003 UK released new versions of the C4 and C8 lights that used a unique optical system coupled with the first LED ever seen in a dive light. The Side Optic System conquered two problems at once. First, the maximum output of an LED projects directly in front of it and normal reflector can not effectively focus this into a beam. To better capture the light, we positioned our LED to point sideways into the reflector, providing a capture of 85% instead of the traditional 65% in a parabolic reflector. This means a stronger central beam and less backscatter.
In-Bezel Heat Sink - 2005
Unlike incandescent lamps, LED lights become less efficient the hotter they get. To combat this problem, UK created a new set of lights with a built in "heatsink". The proprietary in-bezel cooling system provides the shortest thermal of any dive light by dissipating heat away from the LED, through the heatsink and into the water. This allows our LED lights to run an amazing 5° C above water temperature compared to the 50-100° rise that most of our competitor’s lights have. Today we call the heatsink the "Lumen Booster" and it can be seen on the current C4, C8 and Light Cannon models.