Surf’s Up! Riding #TheWave on Cloud Technology

By Jan Bastiaansen

In recent years, there has been a surge of technology applied for use cases beyond our everyday digital lifestyle. At a time where the use of wearables, IoT, and big data is paving the way for technological breakthroughs in all fields and industries, it is also used in fields that are less associated with technology. Take sport and an athlete’s performance, where technology increasingly is becoming the determining factor between being a gold medalist and the runner-up that everyone will forget tomorrow. In athletics, cycling, Formula-1, data analytics can be the driving force behind the improving the athletes’ performance and taking their game to the next level. Combining technology with surfing, however, is probably not something that first comes to mind. Here we are not talking about our daily surfing the internet, but the actual surfing on waves (yes the type you see in the sea from the beach).

Riding the #TheWave Standing Wave Machine

During this year’s Alibaba Cloud Computing Conference in Hangzhou, the sport of surfing was used to experiment with the use of technology by adding a digital layer of fun to this legendary sport. Under the project name #TheWave, visitors were invited to ride waves created by a standing wave machine, while their body movements were being tracked by Alibaba Cloud motion detection technology to determine their positioning and posture. Another layer of technology is added to capture the best moments of the (prospective) surfing legend by automatically analyzing the video and outputting a ten-second video of the best performance of the wave machine surfer. With this collaboration between Alibaba Cloud, AliExpress, and several partners the team envisioned to showcase how tech can improve a sport and make it accessible to a wider public.

Capturing Your Best Surfing Moment

By making use of the powerful media processing capabilities of Alibaba Cloud’s ApsaraVideo and the AI Video technology of Alibaba Machine Intelligence Technology Lab highlights can be generated from your surfing experience. Next, an AI algorithm determines whether the performance was good or bad, and can automatically select a surfer’s 10 best seconds on the surfboard. The intelligent Cloud switchboard allows the organizer to see the different sessions instantly and the Video-on-Demand service is used to analyze, denoise, merge and cut the final result and deliver it in real time. Through fast clipping technology, the video highlight is instantly delivered to the cloud. This allows the participant to view and share their video in a split second to different social media platforms.

What the Future Can Bring

#TheWave has shown us during the Alibaba Cloud Computing Conference that this digital layer adds to the enjoyment of a sport. This has just been one application of how technology can enhance the way we experience a sport. In the near future, we can expect to see more and more sports being disrupted by technologies such as; data analytics, machine learning, and visual technologies. Not only that but also the recent trend of e-sports has shown us that the boundaries of real-life and virtual sports are blurring. Let’s see what it will bring for surfers and other sports alike. The team at #TheWave taught us that the only way to find out is to jump on and ride the wave, just don’t fall off.

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