SmartOar® works by attaching a strain gage (a device that measures bend) on the shaft of an oar. A small box (oarpod) consisting of electronics, a radio transceiver and a battery mount to the oar just above the collar. The box is very light and, because it is close to the pivot point of the oar, has minimal effect on rowing dynamics. Oarpods can be replaced in the field and can also be updated with new software by radio using the included PC software. Any type of sweep or sculling oar can be instrumented.
The oars work in two modes, tablet mode and self-record mode. In tablet mode, a coach in a launch connects with the oars and views force curves in real-time. Strokes can be recorded with the tablet and viewed later or transferred to a PC for deeper analysis. In self-record mode, the oars in a boat talk to each other and can be configured as a group. One oar, the master oar, controls the other oars. A rower or coxswain can start and stop recordings of strokes in the boat with the press of the master oars’ button. Afterwards, the data is transferred by radio to a PC by using the smartOar® download box which plugs into the PC. The workout can then be viewed in the PC display program and analyzed.