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Sensor-packed SurfSens brings surfing into the computer age

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March 3, 2011

Mario Azurza and Aritz Aranburu with the high-tech surfboard

Mario Azurza and Aritz Aranburu with the high-tech surfboard

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In an activity that for many of its participants is akin to a religion, the merging of surfing and technology might seem a bit like blasphemy. But while surfing is still about lifestyle for many of us, these days it's also a competitive sport offering huge amounts of prize money, so it's no surprise to see the emergence of boards packing more than just polyurethane within their fiberglass shells. With the aim of "turning feelings into facts and figures", research company Tecnalia and Spanish surfboard manufacturer Pukas have teamed up to create a surfboard that packs a gyroscope, accelerometer, GPS compass, pressure sensors and strain gauges to measure the flex of the board – but no headlights.

The idea of fitting a surfboard out with sensors isn't entirely new. Last year, four students from the University of California, San Diego, installed a computer and series of sensors on a surfboard with the goal of designing the "perfect" board. Being a student effort, the UCSD board wasn't as refined as the board created by Pukas and Tecnalia, which contains all the electronics within the board itself.

Embedded within the board are various sensors and an IGEPv2 computer that records the data to a flash memory stick so it can be transferred to a PC via Wi-Fi when the rider returns from the water. The data is then processed using the open source Robot Operating System (ROS), of all things, to provide a detailed graphical representation of the board's performance.

Mario Azurza tests out the high-tech surfboard

Pukas hopes the data provided by the high-tech board will allow it to not only improve the features and performance of its boards, but to also provide a way to measure the technical performance of riders, which could be used for training purposes or to assist judging in competitions.

We're betting the blending of surfing and technology in this way will initially be divisive amongst surfers, but if it ultimately results in a better ride, then it might help sway the views of some.

Via Singularity Hub

Pukas - Tecnalia Surfsens project from Pukas Surf on Vimeo.

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
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2 Comments

Great post!

As surfer / engineer, I'm very excited with this idea of adding electronic sensors to the surfboards, I think that professional riders can improve their styles using the data collected by the SurfSens. This technical information, combined with videos and a trainer advice could spice up a lot the competition in the WQS and the ASP Tour.

Regards from Argentina!

Germán
5th March, 2011 @ 12:13 pm PST

check out techno surf?

John Cockerell
8th March, 2011 @ 02:48 am PST
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