The ocean is massive and it’s experiencing massive change thanks to climate change and humans depleting its resources. We know this, but we don’t know the extent of the harm done to the oceans nor many other aspects of life in the seas.
A surfer and engineer, Benjamin Thompson, decided to do tackle these problems. He invented a special fin for surfboards that can collect data about the planet’s waters while one enjoys some fun recreation
In a world that grows more “Big Data”-obsessed by the day, the amount of information we have on the world’s oceans remains curiously small. In fact, according to the National Ocean Service, less than 5 percent of the world’s oceans have been explored. There’s good reason for that. “You put anything in the ocean, and it gets pounded to death, critters grow on them, the temperature changes, and ions corode the metal,” says Paul Bunje, senior director of oceans at the XPRIZE Foundation. “Stick something in the ocean, and it wants to get destroyed very quickly.”
It’s particularly tough to collect information near the shore, where waves are crashing. An innovation like Smart Phin could change that. “Surfers are going in the water everyday. They’re in the most critical, hostile zone, and they’re doing it willingly, and they’re doing it for free,” Thompson says. “We’re chopping of a whole section of the cost of research, and that could be a real paradigm shift in the way data is collected.”