My Watch Says I’m Ripping!

Questionable surf tech debuts at Apple's WWDC, of all places

Apple is finally, finally doing it.

What we’ve waited for for so long.

No, not a more durable, longer battery-life iPhone. Not an iPad that you can actually use as a computer. Not a laptop that costs less than $1,000—none of that boringness.

They’ve finally figured out how to make the Apple Watch talk to a little device that you can attach to your surfboard so that while you’re surfing you can do super rad turns then look at your wrist and have your Apple Watch tell you all the deets about the super rad turns you just did and also tell you what the conditions are for the waves that you’re actually surfing but that’s totally helpful because who wants to actually pay attention to their surroundings when there are all kinds of super rad stats to check out on your Apple Watch about all the super rad stuff you just did.

Sorry, but that information is way too revolutionary and important to be interrupted with punctuation.

Basically, here’s the deal: there’s an app available for the Apple Watch called Xensr (pronounced “sensor” I guess?). The app works with an actual sensor, the Xensr Air 3D (Air! 3D! What do those terms even mean anymore!?) mounted on a surfboard. Totally slash and rip and the app tells you how fast you…blah blah, look, they ain’t the first to jump on board the “device that measures how hard you’re not ripping” train. Nothing new there.

But until now, you couldn’t check your stats about how fast you went or how critical your turns were until you got out of the water and synced your phone.

No more! Now you get almost real-time info beamed from the $200 device on your board to the $400 (hopefully waterproof) watch on your wrist.

Can you imagine if this actually takes off? And you get a bunch of surfers at Lowers or somewhere riding a wave, then paddling back out to the lineup where they instantly sit on their board and look at their watches after every wave, yelling “shit,” or “DUDE” to the rest of the surfers all bobbing and staring at their watches, too?

Me neither. But also, I kinda totally can.

Look, I tested out one of these devices awhile back, the Trace thing, and it was very interesting to see how far I’d paddled, how fast I’d gone, all that stuff. But the best part of the Trace device was that it auto-synched your rides to a GoPro, if you were using one, so that it edited out all the non-surfing moments instantly. That was my favorite part. Knowing the degrees of arc of your turns isn’t really helpful.

The Xensr also appears to track where the best takeoff zone is in a lineup. This will be HILARIOUS in Santa Cruz when some tech bros wearing Apple Watches paddle as a group to a postage stamp-sized takeoff zone already inhabited by a surly crew of locals. I’d pay to watch that encounter.

But still, if you can’t tell where the best place to catch a wave is, not only will wearing a sensor and a watch that is somehow figuring that out for you NOT going to help, it’s going to make you a poorer surfer and not make many friends in the lineup. And we’ve already all got ruined necks from staring at screens at home and work and in the car all day—do we really need to look at a screen in the ocean, too?