February 3, 2006 Nielsen Kellerman is a technology company that focuses on providing critical information to athletes, but almost as a by-product, has created machines which are now used in hundreds of non-athletic pursuits. The idea for the company’s first product came 30 years ago when Richard Kellerman watched a rowing crew hit a bridge during a regatta because the coxswain was overwhelmed. The amplifier/stroke meter/timer device he visualised that day to simplify the coxswain’s job, subsequently created the company and has spawned many devices now used by rowing crews around the world. Virtually every shell at the 2000 Sydney Olympic games carried NK equipment and continues to evolve, with the upcoming launch of the Speedcoach XL, an in-boat performance monitor that wirelessly transmits individual crew heart rates, speed/split, stroke rate, etcetera to a coaching launch. A decade ago, the company developed a new wind and weather instrument, called the Kestrel Pocket Wind Meter. The product developed into a range, where the flagship product is now the Kestrel 4000 Pocket Weather Tracker which reads, logs and charts Barometric Pressure, Altitude, Density Altitude, Temperature, Humidity, Wind Speed, Wind Chill, Dew Point, Wet Bulb, and Heat Index... in one pocket-sized US$329 instrument. It should be no surprise that the 4000 is being used by the military, firefighters, adventurers, scientists and the 2006 U.S. Biathlon Team will use it to gain a competitive advantage in this year's Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
The biathlon is a sport that demands precise weather calculations for optimal performance, as biathletes make strategic decisions that rely heavily on the weather. The Kestrel 4000 provides winter athletes with the real-time weather information they need and U.S. Biathlon member Tracy Barnes says the Kestrel 4000 provides a competitive edge.
"As the sport becomes more technologically advanced, it's important to stay ahead of the game when it comes to our skis and being prepared for windy conditions in the shooting range," says Barnes.
The technicians of the U.S. Biathlon Team also rely on the Kestrel to avoid using the wrong ski wax and costing their athletes valuable seconds. "Now it's getting interesting with the Kestrel 4000. For the first time, we are able to see exact weather changes every day while training for the Olympics," said Bernd Eisenbichler, Head Technician for the U.S. Biathlon Team.
Weather plays a role in every aspect of the sport. On the shooting range, the smallest gust of wind can result in a missed target. Weighing in at less than 4 ounces, the Kestrel 4000 is light enough for athletes to carry with them, and makes it possible for them to ski into the range to quickly assess the crosswinds and plan necessary targeting adjustments. Additionally, ambient temperature plays a role in ammunition selection. The Kestrel 4000 is equipped with a quick response external thermistor that takes highly accurate temperature readings instantaneously.
The Kestrel 4000 measures wind speed, temperature, wind chill, humidity, heat stress index, wet bulb temperature, barometric pressure, altitude, dewpoint, and density altitude.
The Kestrel 4000 can store data automatically at user-determined intervals, or manually with the press of a button. The 4000 stores and charts up to 480 sets of data, together with the date and time, for later review and record-keeping. A computer interface is also available, allowing users to upload the stored data for long-term storage and in-depth analysis.
The Kestrel 4000 is also completely waterproof and floats. It retails for US$329 and comes with neck and wrist lanyards, and operates on 2 AAA batteries for approximately 400 hours of use. Kestrels are assembled in the USA and fully guaranteed for two years.