ESA title

The SeaUrchin

  • ACTIVITYKick-start Activity
  • STATUSCompleted
  • THEMATIC AREAMedia, Culture and Sport, Maritime and Aquatic

Objectives of the service

The SeaUrchin is bringing space technologies to surfing. Surfing continues to grow as a sport especially since it will make its debut in the Olympics in 2021. Like other popular sports, surfers want to track and monitor their time in the water but don’t want to lose or damage their expensive mobile devices while in the water. Therefore, Kittiwake Labs LTD is developing a novel wearable surf tracker that takes advantage of improved Global Navigation Satellite System location services and provides features desired by surfers at an affordable price. The SeaUrchin tracker data is linked to an app and delivers session analysis providing surfers with a novel way to track their performance and monitor their progress. Aimed at surfers of all abilities, the SeaUrchin helps users to improve their technique by focusing on marginal gains, and thereby enabling individuals and surf coaches to maximise on their precious time in the water.  

Users and their needs

The SeaUrchin can be worn by anyone who surfs targeting primarily active surfers of all ages and abilities with particular focus on the largest ability group - improver to advanced level.  The SeaUrchin is designed to support both stand-up surfing and bodyboarding and is aimed equally at male and female surfers. Female uptake of the sport has grown considerably in recent years and is now around 30%.

While individual surfers are expected to make up the largest market segment, other valuable users within the wider UK surf community include surf schools of which there are over 100 in the UK, and coaches. Another user community are surf lifesaving clubs (62 in the UK). Our goal is to initially target the UK market and then scale across Europe once the SeaUrchin reaches at least 2% UK market share. Once Europe has been established, then the SeaUrchin can scale around the world.

Principal identified user needs include:

  • High accuracy
  • Affordable 
  • Enables genuine improvement 
  • Features not found on other devices 
  • Water safety

The technological challenge is delivering the desired accuracy enhancements for the surf session feedback within a user-friendly interface.

Service/ system concept

The SeaUrchin is able to deliver surf session analysis based on tracking surf sessions in the water. By capturing and learning from users’ performance in the ocean, surfers of all abilities will be able to improve their technique through a marginal gains approach - enabling individuals and surf coaches to maximise on their precious time in the water.

The user wears their SeaUrchin device throughout the surf session. Once back on land, the SeaUrchin device uploads the session data to the user’s mobile phone through the app. The app displays session characteristics and statistics.

The SeaUrchin services include surf session tracking data and statistics which users will also be able to compare their statistics with friends in closed online communities.

The Kittiwake Labs team are preparing to file a patent application at this time.

Image credit: SeaUrchin Project, Kittiwake Labs Ltd

Space Added Value

The SeaUrchin takes advantage of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).

Our customers’ needs for more accurate and refined surf session data are addressed through GNSS. The benefit is improved location accuracy throughout the surf session which are not currently available in other competing surf trackers.

Kittiwake Labs are applying their GNSS expertise to incorporate space assets into surfers’ user experience. These features significantly differentiate the SeaUrchin from other surfing apps. 

Current Status

Photo of hardware prototype of the SeaUrchin device.  It is currently undergoing ocean based surf testing in Cornwall, UK.

The first SeaUrchin device tests are being run in a variety of surfing conditions along the Cornish coast. Based on the data and information being acquired, further development of the service is on-going.

A market analysis was conducted through interviews, and an online questionnaire to over 700 active surfers, and provided vital information regarding user needs and sport tracking habits.  With over 10% response rate this has helped prove our initial technical and market feasibility as well as helped better define our two principal market segments: active surfers and surf school coaches.

The Kickstart activity commenced in November 2019 and successfully concluded in June 2020, proving the technical and commercial feasibility of the device and service.

At this time, Kittiwake Labs is focusing on the design and build of the next hardware prototype to bring the device closer to market launch.

Prime Contractor(s)

Status Date

Updated: 19 October 2020