Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Killer (Sensor) Surfing App

I had sensors on the mind after my post documenting some of my favorite mobile device sensors, so when a friend said there was still some surf at Rincon, I decided to head down this morning. The surf dropped since yesterday, but was still fun. However with sensors on the mind it really got me about the ultimate sensor. The killer app for sensors. That would be a sensor that lets you know that the surf is good. 

But before you say, hey just go look at the models. That's not exactly the point. Kind of, but not exactly. I love SwellWatch 3D - here's the Rincon forecast and I always appreciate that resource. But the problem with the forecast is that it only shows a couple attributes. These are key attributes, yes, but still missing a couple elements that characterize a good session. Surfing is just incredibly fickle, and so many minor factors influence a good session. For example, today the model looked a lot like the day before, however, if you'll notice it's about shoulder high, whereas the day before it was head high, and way more consistent. Also, it was more crowded than yesterday. If you look in the background of the pictures, count the surfers.... a lot. And that's only a small slice of the point.

Swell models factor in these elements:
  • Swell size
  • Period
  • Direction
  • Wind
Here are a couple of elements that I'll gladly share in the hopes that someone will build the killer surfing forecasting app. Here are some attributes that (with the magic sensors) would make for the ultimate model:
  • Crowd factor: Surfing's great, but lets face it, it's much more fun when it's not a zoo. When there are 100 people in the water and 10 set waves every 15 minutes.... do the math.
  • Pro-Count: And speaking of a zoo. If you've ever been out at Trestles when half of the top 16 pros are in the water, you'll notice that they seem to be able to get all the waves.
  • Localized wind: Sometimes it's windy, you just happen to go and voila, you get lucky.
  • Consistency: This is something that the models never really nail, but if you can get an accurate gauge for consistency, that can really make the difference.
  • Hollow-factor: Is it hollow or mushy?
  • Down the line: or is it  sectiony.
  • Quota: Are you going to get your quota of great waves?

This all may sound like a joke (and it is) but still I'd love to see the killer surfing app. A couple of weeks back the models looked pretty mediocre but I went down with a friend... it was just soooooo goood.... not too many people knew about it. Definitely a memorable session! We pretty much scored. I hate to leave that to chance.

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