La Jolla surfers develop iPhone app


BY Steve Perez


Romantic notions of “endless summers” notwithstanding, the eternal search for that perfect wave isn’t an easy one — with day jobs, families, traffic and crowds vying for a finite amount of time.

Enter some local surfers with a technological bent to help with the task by developing an iPhone “app” they’ve christened SurfExplorer USA.

The application, which combines live data from sources such as wave buoys and tide charts seek to best predict where the surf is best at a given point in time.

It was developed by a group of people who enjoy surfing yet have “day jobs” in science and technology fields. They began working on the application four years ago, before the release of the iPhone, knowing at some point in the future a device would come along that could make best use of their idea.

“Some people think surfers just want to get some type of alert when the surf is up and anyone can just drop what they’re doing, and just go surf ,” says La Jolla resident Kris Schlesser, a Web developer and one of the project’s founders. “The way we see it, most people don’t have that luxury. If they’re like us, they have a window of time available and are always looking to optimize use of that time.”

The $4.99 app has been available via Apple’s App Store for the past two months and more than 1,000 people have downloaded the first version, Schlesser said.

A personal log element of the application allows surfers to log information about their sessions. An artificial intelligence element of the app then factors that information into its generation of predicted conditions on a given day.

In this way, SurfExplorer then learns what types of conditions are likely to generate optimal surf conditions for certain locations on certain days, he said.

A social-networking component allows users to network with others using

the application to share reports on conditions.

Others involved in the project include Ed Esquenazi, a marine biochemist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and Shane Bowen, who holds a doctorate in chemistry from UCSD. Less than 20 people were involved in

developing the SurfExplorer, according to Schlesser, with a combined “several decades” of surfing experience.

The fledgling company is registered as a California corporation, he said.

While it currently runs only on Apple devices such as the iPhone, those involved in the project are working on a second release suitable for any web-enabled device.