Your kids could be hanging out at a wave pool like this!
Surfing is incredibly popular in San Francisco right now. It should therefore come as no surprise that tech gurus in Silicon Valley are driving innovation in the sport. In terms of everything from making surfing more accessible to developing ways to track metrics to improve technique, technology has a huge role to play in the evolution of surfing. Here are just five ways that emerging tech could change the way people catch waves in the future:
1. Wearable Wetsuit Tech
The use of GPS devices to collect data pertaining to physical activity is nothing new. Even in the world of surfing, we’ve already witnessed apps for the Apple Watch and even a dedicated Rip Curl Search watch – but wearable wetsuit tech could take things even further.
Imagine, in addition to collecting data about top speeds, distance surfed, wave count and heart rate, that you could insert multiple devices into a wetsuit which could measure everything from the bend in your knees to the way your hands are positioned? This data could be compared to that collected from professional surfers to highlight what you need to work on to improve your skills – although it could also be humbling to see just how far behind the pros you currently are!
2. 3D Printed Surfboards
Purists might argue that a printed board could never match the intricacies of a hand-crafted model, but advances in 3D printing mean that lightweight boards printed to a set of exact specifications suited to the individual surfer could soon be on the market. This would essentially allow for custom boards to be created to the preferences or advantages of the user without having to employ the artisanal hand-crafting services of a professional board maker. While purists are against the idea, some are betting the idea could revolutionize surfing and improve the technique of thousands of keen boarders.
3. Board-Sharing Apps
One of the biggest issues for the environmentally-conscious is transporting a surfboard from one location to another via public transport. With an app that provides surfers with access to boards in certain locations in exchange for providing access to theirs at a “home” location, we could be about to see an advent of surfboard-sharing across the USA.
4. Artificial Wave Pools
Champion surfer Kelly Slater has caught the best waves all around the world, and now he can catch them whenever he wants at a wave pool. His project, the Surf Ranch, took a decade to develop and cost a reported $30 million. The professional might be at the end of his career, but with rumors abounding that one of his machines will be used at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, it’s fair to say Slater continues to be a sporting pioneer outside of surfing competitions. And thanks to new legislation in the USA that permits each state to define their own sports gambling laws, you may very well be able to be on the outcome of the Olympics by the time they arrive.
5. Virtual Reality Surfing
Sure, it might not hold a candle to the real thing, but a virtual reality surfing environment could allow people to train without having to wait for those big swells. Just imagine being able to perfect your technique while living in a landlocked state. The applications for novices and professionals alike are astounding.