How wearable technology is changing water sports

It is not so long ago that wearable technology in the world of sports was the stuff of science fiction. Nowadays, it is commonplace to wear a Fitbit, a smartwatch or some other gadget whilst out running or in the gym. As the industry grows and technology becomes more popular, it is inevitable that some more niche sports will get their own versions of wearables, catering to their unique nuances.

And let’s not forget GoPro. Although it hasn’t changed specifics of how we partake in sports, the documenting of them has been revolutionized by the popularity of these little devices, capturing high quality video and allowing tutorials and first person view videos to be published like never before.

Essential reading: Head off to the pool with one of these gadgets

It is of little surprise that Garmin offers a range of products for water sports. Their Vivoactive HR device is proving very popular amongst swimmers. However for the out and out water sport fanatic, the Fenix model is a stunning addition to your arsenal. With a new version just out, the watch offers specialized functions for swimming, open water swimming, SUP boarding and rowing, making it a water sports fanatic’s best friend, even if you take part in multiple sports. Its features include GPS, heart rate monitoring, altimeter, thermometer, calories burned and more. It can also impact other areas of your life and monitor things like sleep quality.

The Fenix 5 is a great example of where wearables are going, to a place where certain functions can follow us around 24/7, monitoring and checking all is in order, but switch to a sports mode and it knows what you need from your device.

The Fenix 5 is designed to be something of an ‘all-rounder’ and truth be told, you need to niche down to find the most specific features. Products such as Rip Curl’s Search GPS is a watch designed for surfers, and it can count waves, track speeds, distances, local tides and distances travelled.

Realistically, not all of us can afford specific products for each sport, or higher end smart devices, but the more ‘budget’ end of the market is starting to catch on. Fitbit Flex 2 comes with water resistance and can be used when swimming, and as time goes on it is surely natural to expect ranges of products to cater for the needs of individual sports.

Wearables are an exciting prospect for water sports, and although still in early stages of use, sports which were previously difficult to learn and participate in such as surfing, can use wearables, and even virtual reality, to become more accessible, and trackable. A world where we can practice surfing or paddleboarding in our living room, and track every step of our journeys out on the water, is just around the corner.

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Ben Jacklin

Ben is the founder of thewatersporter.com, a tutorial and review website about water sports. He is also a blogger and sports enthusiast from the United Kingdom.

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