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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Surf the net while surfing waves
Surfer test runs the hi-tech board
Sun, sea, sand - spam?
For a decade, "surfing" has come to mean browsing the net rather than riding ocean waves on a plank.

But a surfboard has now been developed that lets surfers surf while surfing. The prototype board has been built by Devon "shaper" Jools Matthews.

It houses a laptop, solar panels, and video camera, and is to launch at the Intel GoldCoast Oceanfest on 18 June.

The world's first wi-fi board uses a high-speed net connection point - hotspot - positioned on the beach.

Chip makers Intel has commissioned the unusual surfboard as part of the free sports and music festival in North Devon to show off how technology can be brought to the sea and sand.

The board will have its maiden outing on the waves when it is used by international pro surfer Duncan Scott at the event.

Ride with the best

"As a professional surfer, explorer, writer, film producer and world traveller, being able to communicate quickly and effectively is critical to my success," said Mr Scott, who also advised on the board's design.

Surfer test runs the hi-tech board
The board is a prototype to show off technology
"In the near future," he added, "via wireless real-time streaming, it could be possible that observers will, for the first time, actually be able to 'ride' a wave with the best surfers in the world."

The board itself is 9ft 4 inch long board, ideally suited to the particular waves found along the UK's "Surfers' Paradise" in North Devon.

The technology, supplied by Intel, is tucked away neatly in the board, inside a specially designed waterproof casing.

The casing is made of a tough but lightweight tray, and has a silicone seal, a crystal PVC cover and an aluminium gasket.

The tablet laptop has a wireless chip, a 1.7Ghz processor and a 80Gb hard drive.

Power comes from the solar panels fitted onto the board, and it also has a video camera which can store 64Mb worth of wave-catching action.

Serious side

But even though it is all a bit of fun, serious efforts have been made to ensure the technology did not interfere with the ride and feel of the board, said Intel.

The laptop weighs in at 2.3kg and its position in the board was careful calculated to maintain the desired balance for surfers.

"It's all about giving people the freedom to get online when and where they want - and this technology demonstrates that with a bit of imagination you can do just that," said Tim Hatch, Intel's consumer marketing manager.

The GoldCoast Oceanfest takes place from 18 to 20 June at Croyde beach in North Devon.

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