Innovation That Matters

Crowdsourced ocean data via surfers' fins

Work & Lifestyle

Smartfin is a surfboard fin that enables surfers to gather data on ocean quality.

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Deep ocean monitoring is entering the age of big data thanks to advances in autonomous robotics. Less is currently known about shallower coastal waters, but Smartfin is hoping to change that with the power of surfing citizen scientists.


The Smartfin attaches to surfboards just like a regular fin, but it comes with data acquisition functionalities. The fin is equipped with sensors that monitor sea salinity, acidity levels and wave motion — all important coastal ecosystem factors that could be affected by climate change. As with most citizen scientist devices, the Smartfin is easy to use — data will upload via Bluetooth to users’ phone when they return to shore and sync with the startup’s cloud. The Smartfin also charges wirelessly via Qi technology, which, if installed at beach stations could enable all day data gathering.

By utilizing a existing features in a popular sport, Smartfin method offers seamless data gathering of a historically difficult-to-monitor area. We have already seen the crowdsourced efforts of citizen scientists being used to find antibiotics and test pollution. What other common outdoor practices can be incorporated with data-gathering schemes?



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