Surfing is the most popular it has ever been. In a small period of time it has transformed from a lifestyle to a sport to a sport with a massive audience. Although there are a few vehicles behind its growth, mostly it has to do with technology. Waterproof cameras can now capture stunning footage and portray a perspective otherwise never seen before in surfing. Drones can capture crisp, in-the-action aerial footage as easily as we can snap pictures on our iPhones. These technological advances have given surfing a fresh glamour in the visual medium –haven’t you ever seen a surfing video and thought, wow, I don’t even surf and that looks amazing. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that now the tech doesn’t only film those in the water, but assists them too. With the impressive, dynamic new sports tech coming out each year, companies are striving to do the same thing for surfing. They’re succeeding.
- Smart-watches. Companies like Nixon have dropped new waterproof smart-watches that track data and location. We see these everywhere now, so it’s only right that they’re in the water too. The Rip Curl ‘Search GPS’ is an all-inclusive watch that allows you to track all your surf, speeds, and time in the water. It’s interactive with Rip Curl’s application, so later you can access your data and even send certain locations to your friends if you’ve scouted out that hidden gem of a surf spot. Casio dropped the GLX5600 – another impressive watch that features tide and moon graphs directly on the face. Meaning wearers will have a precise recording of tide and surf swell at all times. The goal here is to bring intuition, GPS, and livestreaming data to the water. With time, these watches will only age into smarter, more-capable machines.
- Smartphin. This piece of water-tech is among one of the community’s favorites. It’s basically a complexly-engineered surfboard fin that acts as a research utility for scientists. Research of what? The water. It measures acidity, salinity, water temperature, and more –then transfers all that data right to your smartphone or tablet. Which will, hopefully, then stream to a vast pool of scientists in so that they can organize and process the data. Not only that, but the Smartphin will help predict the best surf and the surfer’s personal data (speed, time on the water, etc.).
- Drones. Consumer drones have become an absolute game-changer for surfers. They’ve given surfers the ability to surf and operate a camera at the same time (drones can be programmed to autonomously track subjects). Not only that, but the aerial views add a new dynamic to the surfing aesthetic. Similar to the GoPro, they give us the first-person-action, which creates more immersion. Surfers use them. Companies use them to film surf competition. Slippa, a company that manufactures round towels uses them to complement their marketing events. Some surfers even use them to track waves and spot the best surf. Drones have not only complemented the surfing dynamic, but changed the way we’re able to view it.
- SharkStopper. Although products like the SharkStopper haven’t been proven to be 100% effective, the science behind them is still sound. Pun intended there, as the way the SharkStopper keeps sharks away is by emitting an acoustical frequency that repels the sharks without harming them. The SharkStopper is among one of the devices (there’s Shark Shield and a few others too), that’s about to drop. They’re about as light as your average cellphone and attach to your ankle (they need to be in the water to work). As more research and testing goes into these products, we’re hoping surfers will have a 100% effective shark repellent device in the near future. Shark attacks are rare – but we unanimously agree it’d be better if they were nonexistent.
- Virtual Reality. Augmented reality is becoming a factor in the surfing community (well in every sports community now). Companies are striving to produce virtual reality content viewable to those connected with VR. The idea is to not only create a thrilling, immersive experience – but to generate interest in hopes to grow the community. The idea is for a non-surfer to step into the virtual experience of a surfer and for that little light bulb to snap on: this is what surfers experience, I want to try this
As technology continues to evolve, the more we’re going to see it the water. There’s already talk of implementing GPS units and waterproof tablets into surfboards themselves. We’ll see what happens. The idea is to make surfing more convenient, to track data, and to eliminate the dangers of the ocean.