Tracking Session Data: Q&A with Trace Activity Monitor

You probably know the difference between a good session and a bad one. It’s easy enough to tell if you cruised on a wave for longer than usual, or if you paddled around more in a day. But if you could have exact metrics on your personal data like time on wave, max speed, sharpest turn, and number of waves per hour, would you want to know? And would you want to compare your stats to your friends on a social network? The folks at ActiveReplay are hoping that you do. They’ve created the Trace Activity Monitor which, when placed on your surfboard, skateboard or mountain bike, will track various performance metrics (specific to the sport) and hold onto that info in a (seriously beautiful) online database. We were a bit skeptical, like other people who have gotten their hands on this information, but we asked ActiveReplay’s creative director Stephen Lauria some burning questions to help you decide for yourself. Here he gets into some of the nitty gritty on this interesting new product. If you have other questions about the device, let us know in the comments.  

They still have a few more day son their Kickstarter campaign if you’d like to get some gear and support their efforts:

KTV: Why is it important to track this kind of data? Why would someone want to know this info?

Stephen Lauria: It’s interesting you ask. About a week ago, someone on (the surf community on Reddit) took his phone out in the water with him in a waterproof pouch, turned on a run tracker, and tracked all his stats & GPS. He took a screenshot of the data and posted it to Reddit. That post stayed at the number one spot for two days, garnering hundreds of “upvotes” with long discussion about ways to get better data, and how cool it was to see your waves visualized — even though the run tracker couldn’t distinguish between paddling and waves caught, and the screenshot was just a scrambled mess.

And this person was totally unaffiliated with ActiveReplay. Little did they know, that’s exactly the type of device we’re making. Except ours is made for surfing — it’s small, light, durable, totally waterproof, yet employs some of the most cutting edge technology in existence. We think people are actually curious about all this data, we’ve just never had a device to measure it. People asked the same questions three years ago when we created AlpineReplay, and hundreds of thousands of users later, we get emails from users telling us they simply won’t ski or snowboard without it. 

KTV: How does a person use the data?

SL: For surfing, I think the possibilities are endless. There’s the obvious self-interest aspect — How fast did I go? How long were my waves? How big were my airs? How many Calories did I burn? There’s the competitive aspect — What are my friends doing? Who caught the longest wave in the world that day? Who went the fastest? (the Leaderboards on AlpineReplay have become our most popular feature).

But just having this info, provides some really interesting opportunities as well. For instance, surf reports haven’t changed in 30 years. It’s always described as “3-5 feet, Fair conditions” and that’s usually at sunrise. But what if you could see the types of waves being ridden right now. How long the waves are, how fast guys are going, right now. It’s a whole new way to look at surf reports. 

KTV: The interface is beautiful. How long did it take to design?

SL: Thank you! As a startup, there’s always a ton to do, and less time to do it. I think I had about three or four days to design the surfing app before it went to our mobile developer. I had just re-designed AlpineReplay though, so that made it a little easier. 

KTV: How durable is Trace? What sort of testing have you put the product through up to this point?

SL: The Trace is hermetically sealed and totally waterproof (IPX-8), but it also needs to be durable enough for skateboarders and their whacky antics. So we’ve built Trace to be able to take a great deal of punishment. We’ve done stress testing on our prototypes, but stress testing on the manufactured units is a little different. Our CEO, Dr. Anatole Lokshin, has shipped millions of hardware units while serving as Chief Technical Officer at Magellan Navigation, so we’re confident in our ability to make Trace light, waterproof, and very durable once the production process begins.

KTV: Does the data get broadcast to a social network as well? Who is using it so far?

SL: The app that accompanies Trace acts acts as a social network. With AlpineReplay, which uses the sensors in your phone, we have hundreds of thousands of users connected all over the world, including pros and Olympic Gold medalists. Each person’s data can also be sent out (if they choose to) through Facebook and Twitter via #SESSIONSHEETS.

KTV: What are your distribution plans for after the Kickstarter? Online sales only, or are you developing a sales strategy to get it in stores?

SL: We’re still weighing our options. A lot of companies like Myo Armband and Automatic have been quite successful with online sales. GoPro has obviously been successful in brick-and-mortars, but primarily because of the accessories they sell and their point-of-sale displays. But, we still haven’t officially decided on a post-Kickstarter distribution strategy.

KTV: Do you plan to apply this technology to other sports?

SL: That’s probably the number one question we’re asked. Our goal is to eventually bring this technology to a whole host of other action sports, but we don’t want to do too much too quickly. Each sport requires custom algorithms and apps and we want to nail down surfing, skating, skiing, and snowboarding first. But our goal is to definitely include sports like kiteboarding, wakeboarding, BMX, motocross, etc.

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