Connected rowing machine makes users part of a team
If you're a member of a rowing team, it's not just your stroke that's important, but also how well you coordinate that stroke with those of your team-mates. With that in mind, Idaho-based rowers Mike Schaefer and John Balint invented the connected and collaborative Stroke Master rowing machine.
First of all, individual Stroke Masters can just be used by solitary rowers, in order to build strength and perfect their form. The system really comes into its own, however, when two or more wirelessly-connected machines are used by multiple rowers at the same time.
As each rower pulls back on their machine's handle to spin its flywheel, the resistance is electronically either increased or decreased, depending on how "in the swing" they are with the other rower(s). If they're coming in too early, the resistance will be higher than it should be – if they're coming in too late, it will be very low. The other rowers will likewise notice the change in resistance on their machines, if one user's timing is off.
This haptic feedback is backed up by audio/visual cues provided by an app running on a connected smartphone. Plans call for an extra feature to be added to that app, which will allow coaches to monitor all of the rowers at once. This could allow them to optimize team line-ups, without having to try out different combinations of rowers in boats on the water.
Each machine tips the scales at about 80 lb (36 kg), and can accommodate users weighing up to 450 lb (204 kg).
Should you be interested, the Stroke Master is currently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign. A pledge of US$4,500 will get you a pair of the machines, assuming they reach production – the planned retail price for that package is $8,300. Greater numbers are available for higher pledges.
You can see the system in use, in the following video.