Motionize – Paddling Technology

Exercise data collection is everywhere these days. Your phone is counting footsteps, your Fitbit your calories burned and for the enthusiasts or athletes among us, you may have a GPS enabled Heart Rate monitor. On a bike you can go even further by measuring power, cadence and efficiency in addition to a multitude of additional data. But until now, there has been very little accurate movement data available to the paddle sports world that hasn’t been borrowed and compromised from other sports.

Until now! Motionize have launched their “Motionize Paddle” which provides real time feedback of your distance per stroke, strokes per minute, stroke length, number of strokes per session, the ratio between the efficiency of your technique and heart rate and much much more. This is all made possible by two independent sensors. This large amount of data is even analyzed in real time, to provide in motion, real time feedback of your forward stroke.

paddle_sensor_sizePaddle Sensor
The tiny waterproof Bluetooth connected paddle sensor in mounted via an adhesive base plate you locate in the middle of your paddle. The location and small mass means you don’t feel any difference in swing weight on the paddle. The paddle sensor contains a 9 axis motion sensor and a rechargeable lithium 3.7V 150mAh battery good for 5 hours of operation on a full charge. All this is wrapped in a waterproof and robust hard nylon case.

kayak_sensor_sizeBoat Sensor
The larger Bluetooth boat sensor is also waterproof and can be attached to a deck mounted dashboard good for sea kayaks or recreational kayaks, or for those of us in narrower boats, it can simply be secured behind a surfski foot plate or inside a K1, just as long as it’s not moving around. Internally it also has a 9 axis sensor and a much larger lithium 3.7V 4500mAh battery good for 90 hours of operation time on a full charge. In addition to the sensor wizardry inside the boat sensor, a waterproof wireless speaker is also used to provide optional vocal feedback on your stroke efficiency or to listen to music on your Bluetooth connected phone. All this technology is also wrapped in a nylon case.

Motionize App
But the app is the brains of the operation, crunching all the incoming data from the paddle sensor, boat sensor and optional Bluetooth heart rate monitor. The app is compatible with iOS 7 and up, and soon on Android 5.0 and higher. Setup is straight forward and takes just a few minutes.

– Set up your PROFILE with sex, age, height, weight etc.
– Then moving into the SESSION SETTINGS you set it up for imperial or metric units; map orientation; what units you want to display while working out; screen auto lock timer; coach comment type (more on this later); motion based auto resume and an on/off switch to send that emergency contact a notification if the sensor detects you’ve flipped.
– GEAR SELECTION tells the app what type of boat you are in and the type, length and offset of the paddle.
– PAIR DEVICES is used to initially connect the paddle and boat sensor to the app via Bluetooth. If you have a Bluetooth heart rate monitor, you can also pair it here.
– TUTORIALS gives you a brief walk thru the app functionality.
– CONNECT A GARMIN DEVICE allows you to connect a Garmin Fenix3 via ConnectIQ.

screen640x6404Using the app is easy. Simply click on START NEW WORKOUT.  The app confirms the equipment you are using at this point. If you have multiple boats and paddles, you can add them under SETUP and simply scroll to the days equipment choice. Now hit START and off we go.

A second alternative is to hit CONQUER A TARGET to setup a distance, time, stroke or calorie interval workout. Spend a few seconds setting up the workout you want to do and hit start and off you go.

Once under way you have three screens to choose from. The first and simplest is a map of screen640x640your track. Great for finding your way home of finding different lines but of little use for the entire duration of the workout. I’ve found the data screen most useful. I have mine setup to show real time stroke length and distance per stroke, heart rate, speed and time. These are the critical pieces of data I need on any given training day. But the third screen really shows the Motionize magic. It’s a real time display of your paddling with optimal entry and exit positions marked and even the path thru the water. All this while maintaining some of your key performance indicators on the right of the screen, which for my setup is heart rate, speed and time. The level of data we are now capable of monitoring in a real time environment is simply incredible. With the exception of a power reading, Motionize brings real time data analysis almost on par with the cycling industry.

At regular intervals the Motionize coach can also notify you of your last speed, distance and stroke performance. Useful but I found it somewhat distracting, so I’ve opted to turn this feature off. More useful is the real-time coaching. If you are making any number of the common forward stroke errors like late entry or exit, excessively crossing the center line or sub-optimal catch angle, the Motionize coach will remind you to make a change via an onscreen message or even by speaking to you via the boat sensor speaker. It’s almost like having a coach following you in a boat and providing feedback. While the feedback is incredibly valuable, there are times when you just need to paddle, and in these circumstances the Motionize coach can be turned off completely or have the notifications dialed back.

At the completion of the workout, all your data is there for review including your track, screen640x6402stroke analysis and summary of key performance indicators. You can email it to those interested like your coach. However, the detail of this summary is somewhat limited and outside of the stroke analysis it does not go into the level of detail you may expect from a detailed GPS device as the summary is little more than a screenshot. You also cannot export the summary data into a fitness/gps file like a .gpx or .fit file for upload into a workout log and analytics tool like Training Peaks. Only the biggest technologist among you may find this frustrating, but as you’ll read below, there are some exciting developments underway to take Motionize to the next level and encompass these holes.

Later this year, Motionize will debut the next evolution of their technology with “Motionize Edge.” The biggest difference is going to be a much smaller screen640x6403and lighter boat sensor with size rivaling that of the paddle sensor. You will loose the waterproof speaker and presumably some battery life, but the smaller form factor will better suite racing kayaks where space is at a premium. The other great news is that the retail price is expected to be $249, considerable less than the $499 msrp for the Motionize Paddle. This  puts the technology inside a much wider audiences financial grasp.

Also expect an announcement of a technology partnership with Garmin and the ability to use the Garmin Fenix3 with the Motionize app. Details will be forth coming, but the Garmin Fenix3 is a premium multi-sport heart rate, GPS watch with some incredible technology built in. A Garmin/Motionize partnership could set a lofty standard in paddlesports feedback.

Motionize is next level technology for kayak enthusiasts, athletes and competitors. The dual sensor technology and the powerful app brings together real time feedback and key performance indicators that will make you a more efficient paddler. At $499, it’s not cheap but this is a drop in the ocean compared to what a coach will cost to tell you some of the same things.  While not perfect, Motionize Paddle is what I will grab every time I am heading out for a technique focused workout and I have already learned a lot about my forward stroke that I am focused on improving upon. Once the Garmin integration is released and the Motionize Edge released, I can see one of these systems becoming my every day performance monitor.