What would you think if someone told you that you could make a big contribution to ocean research and protection by simply paddling out on your surfboard and catching a few waves? It sounds pretty cool huh, and now it has actually become a reality thanks to the guys at the Lost Bird Project. This non-profit organisation works in a variety of ways to help spread stories about the way our natural environment is changing and raise awareness about the impact of these changes. They have come up with a novel way of helping ocean researchers collect data on one of the most difficult parts of the ocean to collect data from, the surf zone.
Enter the Smartfin, a surfboard fin stuffed with data collecting technology that you attach to your surfboard just as you would any other removable fin. Looking at the Smartfin, you wouldn’t really notice anything different about it apart from the small LED light. It looks and performs in the same way as a regular surfboard fin. The designers worked had to ensure that surfboard fin dynamics like its shape, rake and foil were all kept in check so that it would be hardly noticed when the switch is made. The guys behind Smartfin are Benjamin Thompson and Dr. Andrew Stern, who you can watch explaining more about their innovative surfboard fin in this next video.
Looking at the tech sheet provided by the Smartfin team, it’s amazing just how much technology they have managed to fit inside a standard surfboard fin. It has a digital thermometer with an accuracy of up to 0.1 of a degree Celsius, a pH sensor to measure ion concentration in the water, and a salinity sensor to determine the salinity of the ocean water it comes into contact with. It also has motion tracking technology, including an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer. To top it all off, it has GPS, so that data recorded can be pinpointed to a specific area in the sea, and it has Bluetooth so that all the data it collects can be transferred to the partner app and onto the Smartfin servers.
The Smartfin has no ports or cables, it’s designed for the ocean and has been made truly surf worthy. You don’t have to rinse off the salty water, clean or maintain it in anyway. It supports wireless charging, Qi technology so that you just place the Smartfin on a charging pad to replenish the battery.
So who exactly is going to use all the data that Smartfins will collect? Well the team at the Lost Bird Project has already teamed up with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography to see just how useful it could be. There is no denying that this type of information will fill a gaping hole in ocean research data, and tracking incremental shifts in the state of our oceans will help to protect them from harmful changes. Smartfin is still in the prototype stage, but keep an eye out for its release this year if all goes well.