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HortonHorton Posts: 28,291 Administrator
edited July 2017 in News & Other Stuff

Orlando, FL. July 12, 2017 - Jennifer Leachman-LaPoint, a 3x Women’s Slalom World Record Holder, founder of Women of Water Sports - On Tour, and Hall-Of-Fame Inductee, recently announced the introduction of a campaign designed to expand the spectrum of competitive water skiing. LaPoint is creating a new app focused on encouraging involvement in sports, her ultimate goal being to motivate millions of water skiers to participate in competition.

Water skiing is rapidly losing participants, and with lack of coverage from major TV and media outlets, there is a shortage of exposure to attract new participants. LaPoint’s project aims to remedy both issues. Because most slalom courses are restricted to private lakes, it is difficult for people to learn to compete or measure their skills. Her goal is to open a gateway.

“My concept, pegged ‘COMPETE,’ is an app for virtual reality water skiing,” Lapoint describes. “With the app, each player will be able to film themselves skiing and attain a water ski score and rank. The experience will be enhanced by special eyewear leveraging augmented reality technology to display the ski course buoys during their ride. This experience creates a whole new dynamic for the sport, bringing competition skiing to anyone, anywhere at anytime.”

As a collaborative app, COMPETE puts the “social” back in competitive water skiing, allowing players to challenge one another in impromptu competitions or match play. Players can gain points not only by buoy count, but also by every inch of water covered, endurance rides, biggest spray and most acceleration. To encourage younger participates, COMPETE will also allow kids to transform buoys into virtual creatures they can capture on the water. For fans, there are options to pick leaderboards and form fantasy teams. Furthermore, COMPETE will provide measurement, feedback and coaching in real-time.

“When people have a method to measure success and obtain feedback on their performance, they will be motivated to pursue it further,” LaPoint conveys. “Not only will it promote competition at the grassroots level, but it will also spur the pro level as COMPETE becomes a future source of revenue for media and TV, building the sport up from the bottom and pulling it up from the top. ”

Currently, LaPoint is in the process of fundraising the development of the proof of concept for the water ski version of COMPETE. Jaibil, a fortune 500 technology company, has shown interest in assisting with development. A Go Fund Me campaign is in operation for investments to fund the project by September, in hopes of full release to the public for spring of 2018. A future Kickstarter campaign is also being developed. Ownership opportunities in the business are available with larger investments. To contribute, go to SaveWaterskiingNow


About Jennifer Leachman - LaPoint
Leachman has been a professional skier and icon of the sport for more than 30 years. Learning to ski on the Ohio River and launching her competitive career at age six, Leachman got her first professional break when she was asked to represent MasterCraft Skis, a fledgling ski company being developed by Bob and Kris LaPoint. After tying her Women’s Slalom World Record ([email protected] off), she changed gears and moved to Florida to ski year round and become a full-time professional. In 1987, she opened O’Town WaterSports, which hosted some of the first slalom league and local professional wakeboard events. A few years later, she founded Women of Waterskiing - a grass-roots organization dedicated to teaching women and children to ski. It later transformed into Women of Water Sports - On Tour, the first all-women pro tour developed to save women’s water skiing from extinction after being dropped from the existing televised pro tour. Leachman LaPoint has also been dedicated to the industry side of the sport, helping design many ski products for companies like O’Neil Wetsuits and Fogman Bindings and serving on the USA Waterski Board of Directors.

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  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,245 Mega Baller
    VR slalom course is an awesome idea that's fraught with technical challenges.
    1. For one, how does the boat driver know when he's in a course and give a straight pull?
    2. Two, how do the buoy locations have an absolute value and not move around from parallax effect?
    3. Three, is the system fast enough to react to things like turns of the head and such? If you whip your head cross-course and it takes .25 sec to react, that's really going to mess w your balance, not to mention the location of the projection of the next ball.
    I LOVE the idea of an on-demand VR course that you could just project. I'm hopeful the technical challenges can be sorted out but it seems like a lofty BHAG!
  • RazorRoss3RazorRoss3 Posts: 1,347 Mega Baller
    A good driver can pull a straight path without buoys if they pick a point on the horizon to focus on. Not to say it would be perfect but it is an interesting idea and if it works it would be much easier/less time consuming than having to install a portable and pull it out at the beginning and end of every ski day.
    [Deleted User]
  • swc5150swc5150 Posts: 2,306 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    If there 2 pairs of synced goggles (for driver and skier), viewing the AR course, perhaps that solves the straight line problem? I'd imagine JLP has thought of all, and more, scenarios that we can come up with though. Even a rudimentary version of this would make open water skiing way more fun for me. Love this idea!
    Scott Calderwood
  • DanEDanE Posts: 897 Crazy Baller
    This is so cool. Could be a real gamechanger for waterskiing.
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,245 Mega Baller
    It reminds me of the F35 helmet system.
  • keithh2oskierkeithh2oskier Posts: 528 Crazy Baller
    I have never done anything VR related so forgive my ignorance. But given this involves moving a high rate of speed would a VR goggle impead what a skier/driver can actually see? IE, can they still see through the goggles and view the current landscape/conditions and it just places a "course" in through the goggles?

    I ask because I think I have seen youtube videos of people doing VR stuff and crashing into real life objects that they dont see. Obviously we wouldn't want this on the water where someone could hit a branch, come to close to shore, not see a roller etc.
  • swc5150swc5150 Posts: 2,306 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Good question. My assumption it's a heads up display versus VR.
    Scott Calderwood
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,245 Mega Baller
    Says it's augmented reality, which would be like a HUD. A virtual course projected on your real-life image.
  • keithh2oskierkeithh2oskier Posts: 528 Crazy Baller
    Thanks @UWSkier . I already have enough acronyms to keep track at work. Hard to know whats going on in the video game world.
  • ThomasAliveThomasAlive Posts: 55 Baller
    edited July 2017
    This is a great idea and I applaud Jennifer for leading this up. There’s a handful of technical and engineering issues that will have to be ironed out but now is the perfect time to begin developing this. With Edge computing on the horizon (I’m in the edge computing business) and all of the advancements in AR/VR (my wife is in the AR/VR business), this can now legitimately be considered. We may actually....finally....have a real deal game changer upon us.

    Looking forward to seeing this progress!
  • ObrienslalomObrienslalom Posts: 68 Baller
    Very excited someone is undertaking this. I have given some serious thought to this problem as well, and discussed it with a few collegues that have more experience then I do with it. There are some encouraging ideas floating around that tell me this is something that can work (independent ideas from this effort). IMO, keeping the solution simple and not trying to overcomplicate it seem the most likely to work well. It's really just 6 markers in fixed positions...

    The extra social competitive aspect seems like a solid direction to me.
  • podzelpodzel Posts: 1 New Baller
    In 2003 I was involved with getting 6 groups of undergraduate engineering students to take this on as a design project. The design I liked the best was where the skier listens to sound whose amplitude cycles in phase with the path that should be skied. A light signal from the boat could only be seen by the skier when they have swung out far enough. This was seen by the designers as a training device. Interested to see what can be done with current technology.
  • DragoDrago Posts: 1,588 Mega Baller
    Great idea.
    SR SL Judge & Driver (“a driver who is super late on the wheel and is out of sync”)
  • Mad_FooterMad_Footer Posts: 12 Baller
    For those not familiar with the terms/technology involved, here is a quick primer: Augmented Reality (AR) is where images are projected into your real world visual environment (think Pokeman Go). The most prevalent wearable AR headsets are the Microsoft Hololens and the Epson Moverio and they are far from being rugged enough for waterski use. However, AR is definitely the technology approach for this type of application. This compares to Virtual Reality (VR) where the entire visual field of view is virtual - there is no part of the user's real-world environment that is visible. This is devices such as Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear and Hive. I think that if JLP wants to be successful with this a partnership with Microsoft would awesome.
  • DefectiveDaveDefectiveDave Posts: 479 Solid Baller
    Normally I would rant about the technical challenges of such a proposal, but screw that this time. I'm sure they are well aware of them. Plus, it's a cool idea and maybe they can make it work.

    Go for it and good luck!
    Ralph Lee[Deleted User]
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,332 Mega Baller
    Bump. This is moving forward. Look for more info soon.
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Vice President
    AWSA Southern Region EVP
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