Trace Accurately Tracks all your Surfing, Skating, and Snowboarding
The conversation surrounding the quantified-self and measuring all-that-is-measurable has become a very hot tech meme and has even gone so far to successfully fund a Kickstarter for measuring brainwaves. Although brainwave monitoring is a small deviation from what’s popular, everyone has seen no shortage of these devices for measuring physical activity but even then, these devices are mostly limited to running and bicycling at best. What about everyone else?
Trace is a device currently on Kickstarter that wants to bring accurate tracking to surfers, snowboarders, and skaters that goes beyond the simple accelerometers in our smartphones and little wristbands.
Creating a device that is waterproof, shockproof, and also accurate had me skeptical at first but the makers of Trace have already created a very successful tracking app for skiing called AlpineReplay and this is their attempt at taking that concept to the next level. AlpineReplay co-founder David Lokshin explained that, although smartphones actually work very well with their AlpineReplay app, the information can afford to be much more accurate.
Trace is a hermetically sealed plastic puck that contains 3 accelerometers measuring 9 dimensions of space and is about the size of a Reese’s peanut butter cup. It mounts to any flat surface and is promised to be resilient and durable against impact and water. The three accelerometers allows Trace to go far beyond the traditional speed and movement tracking of smartphones and can measure how many kickflips you’re landing on a skateboard, how sharp your turns were on a surfboard, and how big your jumps were on the slopes. This is all in addition to the traditional metrics we’ve all come to expect, like speed, calories, distance, and more.
Lokshin stated his team of data scientists have come up with a number of proprietary algorithms that match the accelerometer information to certain data signatures to know what the user is doing. He also told me that this library of signatures is continuously updating and will actually reprocess existing data to give users the most optimum and accurate analysis possible, something most tracking apps aren’t doing right now.
My favorite aspect about all this is that Trace will even provide all of the raw GPS and accelerometer data in its entirety for any user who wants to see it, which is perfect for all the hackers and spreadsheet fanatics out there.
Now having all this data is good but a common criticism of these tracking apps, particularly for fitness, is that people don’t know what to do with their information once they’ve gotten it. Lokshin said there are no inherent plans for telling users on what to do with their data but his past experience at AlplineReplay showed that people tend to get creative and have used the information for charity events and even weight-loss challenges.
Trace will also include a mobile-companion app being developed for iOS and Android that will be available for viewing user data, competing on leaderboards, and sharing information through social networks. I inquired about any other gamification elements being present but Lokshin stated that there will not be any game-like features outside of the traditional elements of the sports themselves.
If the Trace Kickstarter is successful, Lokshin also hopes to expand the device to support more sports like skydiving and wakeboarding.
Trace truly is one of the more unique devices that I’ve seen since the whole quantified-self movement began and I do think it will go past the criticism of “useless-data” because of how much more rich and detailed it will be from having two more accelerometers in the device. It’s a significant improvement over something like the Nike Fuelband, which provides an obscure metric that is also unclear in how it is measured.
If you’re a skater, surfer, skier/snowboarder, interested in quantifying your sport, I would highly recommend checking out Trace’s Kickstarter. As of today, they have 31 days to fund the remaining $78,000 to bring this product into market. They are offering 1st production-run devices for $99 and final production-run devices for $150.