By Hugh Carroll, VP of Partners & Growth Markets (and keen surfer)
All this week and next, the 2013 ASP World Tour comes to a dramatic finale as two of the biggest names in professional surfing slug it out at Hawaii’s iconic Pipeline, a surf reef break located off Ehukai Beach Park. Aussie Mick Fanning, two-time world champion from the Gold Coast, battles arguably the greatest surfer of all-time, Kelly Slater, the eleven-time world champion from Florida. The one-time counter-culture sport has now been very much embraced by the mainstream, attracting millions of dollars in sponsorship and media audiences globally, and prompting internet technologies like APIs to play an increasingly important role. While some surfers may decry how social media and modern technology is impinging on the original escapist ethos of surfing, the reality is that with a good web API, today’s surfer can identify where the best swell is going to hit and how well he performed during his latest session. Let’s find out how.
The Quantified Self: Quantify Your Surf Performance
For all athletes, the desire to monitor one’s performance and track progress is now a digital reality — witness the explosion in personal data devices such as Fitbit, Pebble, Jawbone, Nike FuelBand, etc. The most recent addition to this line-up is the innovative trace monitor from Alpine Replay: an on-board, GPS device that records length of ride, height of jump, and more, all while you surf. Afterward, you can download the data and measure it, share it, and compare it across social networks. Using APIs, all this quantified self data can also be shared with third-party app developers and applied toward a variety of healthcare and sporting applications.
As the number of users, devices, and applications grows, so too does the need to manage these APIs. API management technologies are central to controlling, monetizing, and scaling API usage, enabling the orchestration of data across APIs, and adding great value to the data gathered by quantified self devices.
A Weather API for Surf Forecasting
Wind — it’s the key to surfing and the creator of most waves. Predicting how the waves will roll a day or a week out at your favorite beach break depends on a couple of things — local knowledge and a good surf-forecasting website. Many of the leading surf-forecasting websites rely on APIs to provide surfers with relevant weather data. Sites like Magicseaweed and Windguru have forecast APIs that offer to developers — who wish to build application projects based on these APIs — access to core weather and ocean data purposed specifically for surfers and surfing. To control the access and volume of requests to such APIs, and ensure both their availability and scalability, it’s important to implement API management rules.
Many surfers were attracted to their sport because of the freedom and escape it offers from the humdrum of modern life. But the reality is that the technology of modern life can actually help the determined surfer monitor his session and identify the best surf breaks based on the weather conditions of the moment, all without impacting the sense of freedom that comes from a day in the ocean.
Some interesting reading:
John Musser on weather APIs: http://blog.programmableweb.com/2009/04/15/5-weather-apis-from-weatherbug-to-weather-channel/
Mark Boyd on the quantified self: http://blog.programmableweb.com/2013/07/02/the-quantified-self-growing-interest-in-apis-to-manage-personal-data/