Thursday, November 10, 2011

#MEMS: "Sports Analytics Smartens Surfing"

Smarter surf reports contain not only how high the waves are, but also how long the rides last, how fast the surfers are going and even how long it is taking riders to paddle out, thanks to smart wireless sensors surfers can attach to any board.

Motion-capture analytics could revolutionize surfing by transforming data from board-mounted sensors into recreational intelligence--such as, the most likely beach and sweet-spot to paddle out to for the best surfing, according to speakers at the MEMS Executive Congress (Nov. 2-3, 2011, Monterey, Calif.).
Surfers are religious about checking the "surf report" for a particular beach before they leave the house and head over to catch some waves, but now smarter surf reports can rely on motion-capture analytics uploaded from smart microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors attached to surf boards.
The Syride sensor (the black triangle on the nose of board) tracks location, height of wave, speed of surfer, length of ride, time to paddle out and even the calories the rider burns.
MEMS sensors already perform a variety of tasks for smartphone users, such as automatically rotating from portrait to landscape view. MEMS sensors also lock up the heads on a dropped laptop's hard drive before it hits the floor by sensing free fall. But the same MEMS accelerometer, in combination with a built-in GPS, can also enable all kinds of analytics on surf stats, from how high the waves are, to how fast the surfers are going, to how long it is taking riders to paddle out, to how many calories a rider is likely to burn per hour.
"Syride has spent five years developing a feather-light, ultra-reliable MEMS-based sensor and motion-capture technology," said Romain Lazerand, who is in charge of North American business development for Syride. "Now surfers can compare their runs with the best surfers in the world."
The Syride Sys Evo motion sensor mounts on any surfboard by first attaching a carrier--with a sticky backing--onto the board where the smart sensor is mounted. During a surfing session, the smart sensor tracks location, speed and the distance traveled on each wave, which is automatically logged alongside the tide schedule for that spot. Analytics then takes over to deduce for each run the height of the wave, the elapsed time of the ride, the peak speed, the time and distance paddled out, the calories spent for each hour and the sweet-spot most likely to give the best rides in the future.
After the surfing day is done--back at the homestead--the surfer detaches the smart sensor from the surfboard, dries it off and plugs it into his or her PC with a USB cable. Supplied software displays the results of the motion-capture analytics in charts and graphs that recount the best and worst runs of the day, tallies up averages and recommends when would be the most likely time to return to that beach, depending on tides, and the most likely sweet-spot to paddle out to for the best rides.
Finally, the application uploads the board's data to the Syride Website, so it can be integrated with that of all the other surfers visiting that beach, allowing surfers to compare their results with those of the best runs at that beach.
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