I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like press releases, niche products or wasting money. Every once in a while though, I get wind of a product that is worth all the hoopla and has me checking my bank account to find a way to afford it. I don’t really give blanket endorsements except on a few things like duct tape, Elixir acoustic guitar strings, Vans shoes and the ocean. Trace, however, looked interesting.
When the e-mail popped up in my inbox recommending I check out ActiveReplay’s new action sports, progress tracking, GPS wonder device, my interest was piqued. I read up (as much as I thought I could) and called David Lokshin (one of the creators of Trace), who proceeded to blow my mind.
Trace is a small, round device not much larger than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup that tracks an athlete’s movement, recognizes airtime, as well as distance covered and tricks completed. It was designed for use on snowboards, skateboards and surfboards to start. But as far as I can tell, there is nothing stopping you from attaching it to a wakeboard or skimboard aside from the fact that the application only allows three selections: snow, skate or surf. Once done with your session, you put your iPhone near the device, and the data is automatically transferred to the free app on your phone. From there, you can check all the progress you’ve made with each session, share with (brag to) your friends and even post on a public leader board. Trace is also rechargeable with up to seven hours of session documenting life before you have to hook it into its micro USB charger. When I asked David about its capacity for data, he assured me you’d have to go days on end before you fill this thing up.
This isn’t ActiveReplay’s first foray into the realm of real-time action sports data documentation, however. Several years back, Lockshin and a team of brilliant fellows with more degrees than you and me came together to create an application called AlpineReplay. Strictly for use on your phone in the snow, it covered most of the things that Trace does. It’s fairly popular in the snow sports world and used by everyone from bunny-slop first-timers to heli-skiing maniacs. But with success comes improvement, so Lokshin and others capitalized on AlpineReplay with Trace.
Trace tracks your distance traveled on a wave, speed and airtime (if you can get up there). That’s another beautiful thing; you need not be a master in the surf to utilize this tool. You don’t have to be Dane measuring airs or Zoltan Torkos counting kickflips. You can just glide as far as you want. But just know that Trace can even handle a two-wave hold down at your local big break, a ten stair on your skateboard or even a massive kicker. Go as hard as you want. That is the point of tracking your progress, right?
The real question is what is the point of tracking your progress? I mean, runners and cyclists have these sort of fancy devices to post best times, become king-of-the-hill or capture improvement. I’ll be honest in saying that’s not what got me hooked on surfing. I never wanted to post my best wave, or first barrel on a leader board or brag to friends. In fact, a lot of the time I surf alone. For a reason. I’m out there to find solace, challenge myself, become one with Mother Nature and come in somehow (hopefully) a better person. Rarely do I find myself wanting to recount that 100-yard ride to friends. This could be because I’m no Chippa, Kelly or Dane. But I like to think that it’s because surfing is more than a sport to me, and if you begin to attempt to quantify it with tangible markers, you lose the spirit of it.
All that being said, there is still an element in me, as I’m sure it’s in you, that would love to see the personal improvement. Besides, what better way to motivate yourself than to use a measuring stick–which hasn’t really existed for surfers until now.
Look out for Trace, which launched today on Kickstarter with some pretty awesome deals. The products won’t hit your hands until early next year, but the guys at ActiveReplay still have some pretty good deals for you. Take the time to head over to their site, check out their kickstarter video and read up for more information.