To that end, I contacted Quiske, a company based in Finland who have developed a device and accompanying Android App that helps rowers and their coaches collect data in various forms of rowing. I was curious to see if they would loan me a pod to experiment with and find out how their technology works and how it could enhance the rowing experience. Luckily, they agreed to lend me a pod what follows is my experience with the Quiske Pod and accompanying App RowP which can be found in the Android App Store. An iOS app will be released in the future.
Using the pod on the Concept 2 machine is different than using in a boat. First, the pod is attached to the side of the seat, and your cell phone is attached to the rowing machine handle. Once the two devices are connected, they collectively measure the speed of the handle relative to the speed of the seat.
Coaching Via The App
An algorithm on the app calculates various variables such as the amount of time the seat is stationary relative to the entire time of the stroke. From this kind of metric, the app provides feedback to let you know if you need to adjust aspects of your technique to optimize your stroke. Arrows in the app indicate if you need to increase or decrease the variable. The algorithm looks for a relatively segmented stroke technique, and the “coach” feedback can be set at three levels of challenge. The app also produces a graph the plots handle speed and seat speed on the same pair of axes.
Using The Quiske Pod On The Water
After trying the pod on the rowing machine, I ventured out to the water to experiment with the app to see how it performs in that environment.
The pod functions slightly differently in a boat because the pod comes with a holder that wraps around the collar of the oar you are using. A mobile phone with the app running should be attached to the boat in landscape mode with the screen of the phone facing you in the boat. Ideally, you should have a water proof phone, but I had to make do with a plastic bag wrapped around the phone. ;).
You can also attach the pod to the seat, and this provides seat speed graph rather than oar metrics. Once you have the pod attached (oar or seat), you can configure the app according to this setup.
As a result, more metrics become accessible compared to a rowing machine. These are as follows.
Boat acceleration curves. (generated by the app running on the phone)
Horizontal and Vertical angles of the oar. (if the pod is attached to the oar)
The angular velocity of the oar. (if the pod is connected to the oar)
Rate. (generated by the app running on the phone again)
Seat speed graph (if the pod is attached to the seat).
I was only able to capture about 11 minutes of data. However, two minutes of rowing data could be just about as helpful as sixty minutes of rowing.
There was a learning curve as I gained more experience with the RowP app and accompanying analytics. For full documentation on how to use the Quiske Pod and the cloud analytics, you can download the guide here.
Uploading Data For Further Analysis
Once you have completed training or a segment of your efforts, you can choose the option to upload your data to the cloud from the app. When this is complete, you can log in to your cloud account where a robust set of analysis tools awaits.
The Quiske pod also allows for dynamic rowing on machines such as the RowPerfect or a Concept2 on slides. I did not have the chance to evaluate the pod and app in a dynamic ergometer system but hope to do so in the future.
Also, I include a YouTube video made by Quiske that provides a view of most of the functionality that the cloud-based analytical system that supports the data obtained from the pod and the phone app.
Improving Your Rowing Technique
Once I had access to my cloud data, and I started to understand what the graphs meant it helped me to recognize my technical errors much more clearly and empirically. For example, when I approach the catch, I could see that my handle speed and deceleration was different from my seat deceleration. This data indicated to me that I was not establishing my forward body angle early enough on the recovery. This data analysis ability represents a huge improvement in measuring technique empirically and also to evaluate progress as time moves on. I will make my clients aware of this new technology because it will elevate the quality of my technical feedback when they send me video of their rowing.
Note: At the time of writing, Quiske is about to release a new version of the RowP app that provides this feedback in an even better form than currently. I will update this post when I have had time to evaluate this upgrade. For the time being, I was provided some screenshots so that you can get a sense of the technical analytics provided in the new version of the RowP app.
I can see that value that this data provides a coach who can coordinate data collection. Unfortunately, I was not able to evaluate the coaching functionality which enables simultaneous viewing of graphs from multiple rowers on the same chart. The power of this provides a coach/crew the chance to see how they could match up their technique and coordinate timing, drive, recovery and blade control phases. For a full video that explains how to use the cloud-based service in a team environment see below.
The folks over at Quiske were accommodating and replied to my emails which were full
of questions very promptly. I learned a great deal in the process. They are very passionate about rowing and actively participate in rowing competitions.
Easy to install.
Can be used in many rowing environments, Concept2, RowPerfect, Sculling or Sweep rowing.
Produces a great deal of data to help empirically measure rowing technique.
The RowP app provides real-time feedback on your rowing technique so that you can improve as you row more.
Saves time and provides coaches with a way to measure technical improvement and compare athlete performance.
Full suite of analytics tools for all environments – single sculling masters to team environments such as college teams.
Great technical support. The Quiske team are very responsive, and my experience was top notch. All of my questions and emails were answered within a 24 hour period.
Cost, the pod is somewhat expensive, and you must also budget for the use of the analytical cloud-based membership each year. If the pod and app are used in a team environment, then this cost multiplies for the number of rowers that you need to measure if you intend to measure technique simultaneously.
There is a learning curve on how to use the cloud data as it is by nature very technical and requires a solid understanding of reading and interpreting data from graphs.
Currently, the cost of the new pod is around 250 Euros with the older version costing 200 Euros. Additionally the cost of the cloud-based analytics that supports the pod costs between 99 Euros (single athlete) and 299 Euros (coach subscription) depending on your need. If you would like to learn more about the product or are considering a purchase head on over to their website by clicking here. Or contact their sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think that it would be helpful for the app to provide coaching feedback through an audio channel and the user could select how often this feedback is provided. Audio input/output apps are the future of technology with the advent of Alexa. I know what the Quiske RowP app data looks like, I wonder what it sounds like?