Surf Technologies: Meet the Future of Surf

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David Biger's picture
David Biger
08 · 15 · 2018

Injecting science into surfing already started a while ago but more and more start-up founders are getting involved in the surf industry by developing new technologies. Some surfers prefer to stay away from those tech improvements and like to keep it simple: a surfboard, a short and the ocean.

Whether we like it or not, it’s a matter of fact that technology offers new opportunities to help surfers gaining knowledge, improving performance and reinforcing safety. The surfing experience can now be enhanced, intensify, facilitated… Let’s explore what’s new in more detail!

Connected Surfboard: From Beginners to Expert Surfers

Some gadgets are changing how we go about our daily lives in our homes: Apple with its Apple Watch, Amazon with its Alexa and even Ralph Lauren with “Polo Tech”, a shirt that tracks in real-time your workout data, heartbeat, temperature, etc. These smart technologies might raise some privacy concerns but when we combined sport and technologies, it can lead to amazing results, providing valuable information for anyone who wants to learn or progress in his/her favorite sport. Of course, we will focus on surf!

Introducing: The Polo Tech Shirt (Ralph Lauren)

The “Samsung Galaxy Surfboard” is a newly connected surfboard allowing us to be connected in real-time to a personal coach, a fan community and other online information such as weather forecast, wind direction, etc. Developed in partnership with World Surf League and Johnny Cabianca, it shows the enthusiasm of tech giants to invest in the surf future.

Samsung is not the only one betting on connected surfboards, the project Pukas Surfsense (collaboration between Pukas and Tecnalia) developed sensors that record all the essential data: GPS, tensiometer, gyroscope, movements of the board. The data recovered on a computer then allow fine-tuning your riding to improve your performance and get in-depth info about your sessions. Similarly, ActiveReplay a start-up from California developed a device to track the speed, ride length, motion features, calories burned and geolocation.

The French start-up “By the Wave” will soon launch a new device for surf beginners. It’s a small box fixed on the surfboard able to calculate the optimal take-off timing (when you have to get up on your board!). How does it work? It measures the speed but also the board inclination, type of waves, etc. This device is named “Wavecatcher” and should be available last trimester of 2018.
 

Advanced Technology: Analyzing in the Finest Detail to Improve Your Performance

Red Bull is definitely a main actor of the surf tech, aiming at improving the surfers’ performance and experience. They are using a couple of technologies, including “Video Watch” that can give us an instant feedback with the coach sent on our watch. Red Bull partnered with PPS (Pressure Profile Systems) to create a solution for surfers using tactile sensing technology: it provides a deep analysis of the pressure used on the board during specific movements.

Going even further, “Notch” is a company specialized in motion-capture sensors to record movement and replay it in 3D using your smartphone. The device understands precisely how your body moves and you can use up to 16 sensors! The technology can be used for various fields: sports, healthcare, entertainment. Red Bull has used Notch for analyzing paddling techniques and it allows pro surfers to find flaws that they didn’t know before.

Notch: Your Movements Reconstructed on The Smartphone in 3D

Artificial Wave: To Surf Anywhere at Anytime

Artificial wave technology is also growing fast, always pursuing the objective of reproducing the real surf experience. The Wavegarden Cove, the world’s leader, is, for instance, capable of producing up to 1000 ocean-like waves per hour with different height and length (up to 15, 20 seconds). They already built 2 facilities for surfers and more than 20 projects are under development in all continents.

Check out a demonstration by pro surfers in the R&D center in Basque Country, Spain.

Wavegarden Cover 2017

“Surf Anywhere” is another serious actor in the field of wave technology. The Canadian start-up aims at designing waves on rivers… yes, you read well on rivers! To do this, the engineers use 2 types of technologies: one to control the water level and another to create waves. Projects have been already completed in the city of Bend in Oregon (USA), Kananaskis in Alberta (Canada) and in the suburb of Prague (Czech Republic).

Even Kelly Slater has launched his own project in his “Surf Range”: the Kelly Slater Wave Co. Revealed to the public in 2015, the impressive waves have attracted many surfers and the technology used remains a well-kept secret. Kanoa Igarashi declared about the technology: the next one they are going to build will be even crazier, which is crazy in itself. They can create sections on the wave, enlarge it, and make the first wave section hollower …”

You can find a lot of videos from Kelly’s Surf Range on his website or Instagram.
 

Drone Technology: Safety and much more

Surfing experience is constantly enhanced thanks to the drone technology. Apart from taking mind-blowing aerial photography, new drones can actually be useful for many things! The Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver is a great example of how to improve surfers’ safety. Built by the University of Technology of Sydney, the device has been developed for search, rescue and lifesaving operations. It includes a communication system enabling the rescue teams to react quickly and efficiently. It can even detect shark in real-time.

The Little Ripper drone is delivering “Rescue Pods” to anyone in danger and contains a flotation platform to support up to 4 persons. Those pods are also providing an emergency position-indicating beacon in order to locate the persons in distress.

The very first rescue by drone has been done at Lennox Head in Australia where you can see the drone in action, delivering the pod with impressive accuracy.

The world’s first surf rescue by drone

Among other drone capabilities, “Air Dog” is a company that focuses on fully autonomous drone captures. It can automatically track you and following your movements, anticipating the changes of direction and is perfectly waterproof! Airdog comes along with “AirLeash” the tracking and control device that you can attach to your wrist or arm. This technology allows solo surfers to film themselves.

Surf is constantly changing and evolving. The new technologies do not necessarily compromise the authenticity of surf, and innovations can really change surfers’ lives for the better. We’ve seen that drones can save people, someone far from the ocean can ride a wave inside the city or surfers can boost their skills using high-end devices. Who knows what does the future hold? At Total Surf Camp, our philosophy is to help make the world a better place.

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Tags  Surf tech