Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Raft/Kayak Infrastructure Integration

Current technology is demanding that the auto industry create smart cars to help navigate the roadways of America. The buzz word is VII known to techies as Vehicle Infrastructure Integration. A fancy term for smart cars. GPS navigation systems, internet access, voice controls, iPod and satellite radio, and onboard devices to communicate with other vehicles and sources help to navigate the roadways and obstacles are already here. Soon everyone's car will have the same technology...

I was wondering... what if kayaks and rafts had this same technology? Think... navigate the toughest river using a navigation system that you could program based on your own skill set. If you are a novice kayaker or rafter, you could program your boat to run conservatively with no possible flips or wraps. Or you could run like Tao with drops and rad moves through the rapids. Imagine being able to run an unknown, virgin river run without scouting! The GPS would do that for you. You could communicate downstream with other rafts or kayaks to find out if there was trouble ahead that the navigation system didn't pick-up. Or you could just have a conversation comparing your runs.

See it. The smart car takes you to the river without you having any knowledge of the run. The car drives you there knowing which washed-out road lies ahead. At the put-in, the car offloads all your equipment without any labor on your part. And then the same technology pumps up your raft or rigs your kayak. All the while, you are slipping into your wetsuit and lifejacket without a single moment wasted in preparing your equipment. As the raft self inflates or the kayak rigs its own foot mounts, you slide in when ready. You then push a few buttons on your paddle and the craft proceeds downstream. In front of you is a navigation screen with speech recognition. Over the din of the whitewater, you shout "Class 4." The boat then gives you all the Class 4 techniques to run any rapid. You paddle; but the boat corrects any errors on your part. This leaves you with plenty of opportunity to take photographs or just enjoy the view. The tunnel vision view of navigating a river disappears as you no longer worry about the safety aspect of paddling any river.

Then on shore, the smart cooler with its high tech refrigeration system operates so well that ice cream could be served on day 12 of a Grand Canyon trip. On the inside of the cooler is a screen telling you what items are perishing or still eatable. And on the same screen, the river menus pop-up suggesting ways to cook what's still left in the cooler. No thinking or planning involved. Then over to the kitchen set-up where the stove quickly cooks any meal with no fuel; just a solar source. We're talking the simplest food scene in the history of rafting or boating. No more arguing about meals on river trips!

On the side of the river, monitoring stations allowing WiFi access allowing all the systems on your boat to communicate with a source to allow you to have a stress-free time on the river. Think of the porta-potty system that could be developed. No mess, no stink... wow! Everything recycled on the spot and broken down into its most simplest form.

So Kayak or Raft Infrastructure Integration or K/RII may be coming soon... and we can't wait until it's here... NOT!
Silly post from the bored: W.E.T. office staff...

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