Extreme sports sprang from small groups of rebellious, adrenaline-fueled athletes exploring uncharted territory, much like the Z-Boys taking their skateboards to the drought-stricken pools of California in the 1970s. These days there is a whole lot more on the line, with career-making endorsements hinging on perfect 720 degree spins and butter-smooth landings. On show at CES this week, the XsensrAIR sensor is aimed at extreme sports enthusiasts looking to take their craft to the next level, offering feedback on their performance in real time.
The square-shaped XsensrAir really is quite small, a desirable characteristic if it is to be slapped on skis, snowboards and bike frames without hampering performance. Including its mounting plate, the sensor measures 50 mm (1.97 in) along each side and 21 mm (0.83 in) thick, with the whole thing weighing in at 0.5 oz (14 g).
Its built in sensors gather motion data such as jump height, speed, landing impact, airtime and rotation and then send this to a paired iOS or Android device over Bluetooth LE. From the mobile app, users can then access their performance stats and are provided with 3D animations of themselves in action. The performance metrics can be integrated with footage on Xsensr's purpose-built desktop editing software and there's also the ability to compare your sessions with friends and issue challenges to those also riding with an XsensrAIR onboard.
This isn't the first attempt at taking wearables into extreme sports territory, but the XsensrAir does have a couple of unique selling points. The Trace sensor launched in 2013 is very similar in form and function, but does weigh almost three times the XsensrAir, at 1.4 oz (40g). And while it can be put to use in a range of extreme sports, Trace's developers say it works better on a surfboard, skis or a snowboard. The XsensrAir supports all of skiing, snowboarding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, wakeboarding and mountain biking, so there's a little more versatility there. It also happens to be US$20 cheaper.
The waterproof XsensrAir is charged via USB and the battery is said to be good for a full day on a single charge. It can be preordered now for US$179.95, with shipping slated for February 2015.