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Client: Hydrow
  • Technology Development
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Software Engineering
  • Design for Manufacturing
  • System Architecture
  • Regulatory Compliance

A sleek, quiet rowing machine that uses electromagnetic resistance and immersive visuals to bring the benefits of rowing to the home.


iF Design Award 2020
TIME Best Inventions 2020



As a former rowing coach, Hydrow’s CEO Bruce Smith saw an opportunity to create an improved ergometer, bringing a previously unknown caliber of indoor rowing to both elite and casual athletes.

Through a partnership combining Bruce’s deep knowledge of athletes’ psychology and physiology with our experience developing innovative exercise equipment, we designed a product that matched his two basic requirements: “It has to be drop-dead gorgeous. It has to be pin-drop quiet.”

We identified eddy current brake technology as the best method to provide the quiet, controllable electromagnetic resistance needed. To explore and develop the machine’s control systems, precision, and inertial characteristics, we built an exploratory platform affectionately named “The Fortress of Erg.”

The Fortress’s modular design allowed our engineers to exhaust all possibilities before deciding on the best system architecture, including the control system, brake resistance unit, inertial dynamics, and smooth nylon webbing for the handle attachment.

Manufacturing team assembling beta prototype

To help meet Hydrow’s aggressive timelines, we travelled with their team to qualify candidate contract manufacturers in Asia. The selected manufacturer carried the beta design through production while we refined the Rower’s controls, software, and electromechanics.

To develop the controlling algorithm, we used a robot (called “Rowbot”) that could simulate the inertia and resistance of any rower to an uncanny degree. This algorithm was used to test the machine’s force trajectory to quantitatively assess the Rower’s accuracy and precision until the qualitative feel of its resistance was perfected.

  1. 01Cooper Perkins and Hydrow engineers trying the equipment
  2. 02Roadkill electronics prototype
  3. 03The final product

Hydrow’s CEO had a dream that he was able to state in two short sentences. We created and executed a plan to realize that dream.