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Kymera powered body board gets electrified, approaches commercial release

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September 26, 2012

The Kymera powered body board can reach speeds of up to 25 mph (40 km/h)

The Kymera powered body board can reach speeds of up to 25 mph (40 km/h)

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It’s been over 20 months since we last looked at the Kymera jet-powered body board and it’s great to see that its creator, Jason Woods, has stuck with his dream of developing a compact and lightweight personal watercraft. In the time since our last story, Woods has continued to plug away in his garage refining the Kymera, which now sports a new hourglass shape, has made the switch from gasoline to electric power, and has attracted the interest of search and rescue (SAR) teams. Most importantly, the Kymera is nearing commercial availability, with Woods aiming for a release in 2013.

Woods came to the realization that his Kymera body board had applications beyond simply being a fun way to spend some time on the water after he was inundated with emails from rescue swimmers and lifeguards around the world in the wake of initial unveiling the Kymera. He realized that the Kymera, with its one-hour plus run time, would be even better suited to water rescue applications as opposed to recreational users that would be looking to run the device for longer periods. His creation would also be much cheaper and convenient than the boats and jet skis commonly used for rescue purposes.

Thankfully, Woods hasn’t abandoned his original vision of bringing the thrill of powered water transportation to the masses. The Kymera will still be targeted at recreational users, but the interest from the SAR arena gave him renewed inspiration to tailor a model to such users. It also prompted the switch from a gasoline engine to an electric motor, which he felt could be counted on to start much more reliably than a gasoline-powered engine.

The Kymera body board sports a new parabolic shape

The switch, which required a redesign of the Kymera’s conventional “jet drive” to maximize efficiency, also addresses noise and pollution concerns. The current electric motor outputs peak power of 3.4 kW and is powered by a lithium ion battery pack that will provide around an hour of use. The battery pack can be recharged from a standard wall outlet in around two hours and the whole board, including the battery, weighs in at 48 lbs (21 kg). This meets Woods’ aim of creating a personal watercraft that can be transported in a car without requiring a trailer and carried under an arm to the water.

But with electrical outlets not easy to come by on the shore, Woods has also developed a solar charging station for the Kymera. Measuring 4 x 6 feet (1.2 x 1.8 m), the charging station can fully recharge a Kymera in eight hours and is designed to be mounted on the roof of a lifeguard tower to ensure the board is always ready for action. Woods is also working on a combination roof rack/charger that can also pull power from a vehicle as it makes the trip to the water.

To take better advantage of the superior torque provided by an electric motor, Woods also modified the Kymera’s drive system. Woods was reluctant to provide specific details about the patent-pending system, but did reveal it is similar to the jet pump system used in the early Kymera prototypes, only far more efficient.

However, Woods hasn't ditched the fossil fuel option completely with a propane-powered model also in the works. While the current electric and propane models are largely identical and the majority of their components are interchangeable, the propane-powered unit boasts a three-hour runtime and increased power compared to the electric model.

The Kymera body board weighs 48 lbs (21 kg)

The Kymera will come in two different sizes aimed at the recreational market, with each offering a choice of two different power options. A 5’6” (1.67 m) model will come with a choice of a 5 hp propane engine or a 2 kW electric motor, while a larger 6’6” (1.98 m) board has the option of a 10 hp propane engine or 3.5 kW electric motor.

The current electric models top out at around 18 mph (29 km/h), while the propane-powered models can reach speeds of up to 25 mph (40 km/h). As any go-karter will tell you, the sensation of speed is much enhanced when the rider is positioned closer to the ground – or, in this case, the water surface – so riders can expect to feel like they are shooting across the surface of the water much faster than they are.

Woods is also working on integrating an optional radio fence into these boards that could be operated by a parent or rental operator. This would limit the range of the board by reducing the throttle until the board returns to within a safe distance of the shore.

A third “Rescue” model aimed specifically at SAR users is a modified version of the 6’6” large board and boasts a high-end electric drive. The Rescue board can also be towed by rope or remotely controlled to bring distressed swimmers back to safety. With this in mind, the board features additional grab handles and its deck also doubles as a fold out deployable rescue sled. Its light weight would also allow it to be transported by truck or car, or even repelled over a cliff or lowered from a helicopter to swimmers in trouble.

Woods also teased us with mention of a “top-secret project” code named E.C.R.B. but is keeping details under his hat for now, revealing only that this board ups the power to 20 hp while reducing weight to 38 lbs (17 kg). Testing on this model is set to start “soon.”

Since we last looked at the Kymera, Woods has also given the board a new parabolic shape. Rather than just giving it a sexy hourglass figure, the new shape actually forms the board’s patent pending steering system. When the board is ridden at speed, the “hips” in the rear ride out of the water so that when the rider shifts their weight from side to side, the resistance of the board varies and the rider can carve through the water to change direction.

The Kymera Rescue board measures 6'6' (1.98 m)

Woods says the new hull shape also controls the rate with which water is displaced by the board to act as a kind of shock absorber. As the water is displaced outwards in a controlled fashion, the board lays into the waves rather than slapping into them as is the case with a contemporary hull.

“This shape took years to perfect but has proven to be extremely stable and surprisingly agile requiring no other means of steering,” Woods says. “This reduced the systems complexity, further reducing the craft’s overall weight.“

Preliminary testing of the Kymera Rescue board has been completed with plans to move onto real world testing with SAR users in the near future. Woods expects to have the Kymera on the market for general consumers by (northern hemisphere) summer 2013 at a retail price of around US$5,000 for the base consumer model. However, he hopes that demand will allow him to increase volume and eventually get the price down to around $2,000. This would put the Kymera in closer competition to kayaks and paddleboards rather than much more expensive powered competitors, such as jet skis.

The electric Rescue Kymera bodyboard can be seen in operation in the video below. One of the biggest dangers we can see is people faking drowning just to get a ride on one.

Source: Kymera Body Boards

Update: This story was modified on Feb. 25, 2013, to correct the size of the solar charging station.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
15 Comments

I would think with a few body mods, this would be great portable device for lifegaurds.

Ct
26th September, 2012 @ 06:59 am PDT

The electric model needs a way to exchange batteries quickly, because I guarantee you, one hour is not going to be enough runtime for anything that looks that much fun.

Timothy Neill
26th September, 2012 @ 08:40 am PDT

If Jason Woods needs any money and business savvy to make this incredible product 'float', I believe the Sharks from the Shark Tank show would love to grovel for his invention. JMO

Marco Corona
26th September, 2012 @ 09:34 am PDT

This would be a great device for US Navy SEALS as this could allow them to be deployed quicker and be at full strength when they reach their designation to take care of the next phase of mission.

OMEGATALON
26th September, 2012 @ 09:42 am PDT

Very cool.

I suspect the solar charger "4 x 6-inches (10 x 15 cm), the charging station" is supposed to be 4 x 6 feet rather than inches unless they had some even more exciting solar power breakthrough than an electric boogieboard.

Michaelc
26th September, 2012 @ 09:51 am PDT

I believe he should find an investor and start mass producing these boards because at $5000 it will not be a success. For $2000 I would buy one for myself today but $5000 is too expensive

wiarus2000
26th September, 2012 @ 11:26 am PDT

Seems like a great idea for SAR, or SEALS (with significantly more run-time - perhaps back to gas for that version)

Or playing in the ocean surv, but I see one potentially serious safety issue at least under the conditions down at my local lakes, due to the low profile of the body board configuration -- and hence, a possibly very serious liability issue --

1. The rider's head is very close to the water -- any significant wake or wind waves are going to really reduce the rider's ability to scan for other water craft; at the same time

2. The low profile will make it difficult for other craft to see the board, especially if waves are over a few feet. Boats are likely to be scanning well enough to miss the board in time, but the jet ski (PWC) crowd tends to be less observant. Stereotyping, I know, but I believe the statistics bear it out -- moreover, PWC can usually get away with a shorter warning time, because of their enhanced maneuverability relative to a traditional boat. Not a problem with boats and other PWC because they are visible. In moderate waves, a ri

der on these boards could be hidden when they are on the next wave over.

In effect, the rider is about as visible as a swimmer out in the open water.

RECOMMENDATION: At a minimum -- some kind of whip antenna with a high visibility flag -- same as dune buggies in the sand dunes, for the same reason.

Antenna is a hassle, of course -- perhaps a short, tethered "paraglider" kite, like they sell for backpackers? or ... something.

Douglas Hoskins
26th September, 2012 @ 11:33 am PDT

Oh man, I want one for playing in the river! My biggest concern is banging my chin on it in serious water. Good thing I've got a canyon helmet :-)

Vince Pack
26th September, 2012 @ 01:32 pm PDT

A huge thank you to everyone for the huge response! We are swamped in inquiries at the moment so please be patient we will get back to you as soon as possible!

@Timothy- Oh Yes, that is a must! the batteries will be easy to swap out and the new cells we are looking at will greatly reduce the charge time.

@Michaelc- You are correct it is 4'x6' primarily for lifeguard tower or dock mount.

@wiarus2000- I couldn't agree more! The real end goal is to drive the cost down to make it truly affordable for everyone to own and operate as quickly as possible. For SAR applications, the average retail for just the towable rescue sled for a jetski is around $3500+ so $5000 for a device that saves you $20,000 with greatly increased accessibility is a huge value. Add to that remote operation and its a steal!

Thanks again!

Jason Woods
26th September, 2012 @ 10:39 pm PDT

Should talk to Polyplus. They have a lithium salt water battery that can push 1300Wh/kg. Still too early in development for this project but certainly as a future replacement battery. Also consider the military side. Not that I'm a fan but military funding can really boost you to the finish line.

togaclad
27th September, 2012 @ 09:31 am PDT

Wow. The Kymera has come a long way in a short time! How much longer do I have to wait unit I can buy one?

Mr. 3000
28th September, 2012 @ 08:41 am PDT

hi Jason love the boards saw it in person friend of your father's at the Solano drive in I'm a big fan glad I got to see the board in person. Would love to see more of your designs

Shaun Sorensen
17th February, 2013 @ 12:26 pm PST

Shaun, if you see this note here is the latest update on the jetboard. jason is posting it on the kickstarter site for emerging technologies on monday feb. 25. he hopes to raise enough money there to move into full scale production. the first real goal is to get these into the hands of search and rescue teams. thanks for taking an interest Shaun. he needs all the help he can get right now.

Mark Woods
21st February, 2013 @ 11:56 pm PST

I agree with the first comment. Lifeguards would greatly benefit from this board. Great invention!

John Taylor
22nd February, 2013 @ 05:34 pm PST

Kymera is on Shark Tank. Still in prototype stage. Nobody made any offer.

Luddite
1st November, 2013 @ 06:47 pm PDT
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