For our hack, we decided to use the Exoglove sensor glove, the product of a Toronto startup called BreqLabs. This glove is a breakthrough in terms of convenience and accuracy that can deliver a full rendering of the hand. In fact, this wearable tracks the finger orientation at all times and can also report with millimetric accuracy the hand position in 3D in a range that far exceeds the limitations of competitive camera-based solutions. Thanks to the powerful programming interface of the glove, we can extract a number of useful metrics to monitor the performance of individuals in a team sport setting (and even the ambient temperature). The gloves work in conjunction with a receiver that can be battery powered and has both USB and Bluetooth interfaces.
Aside from the backend development of the product we wanted to give a great emphasis towards design and the product identity. The glove is elegantly designed so we used that as our primary inspiration to draw from. Thus resulting in crisp lines, simple interfaces and conceptual looking visuals. Since the product involves a wearable and digital interfaces, the logo was designed with the intention to be able to be visually appealing to both; eye catching and modern (the A and the U form an outline of a canoe) on interfaces while avoiding to "cheapen" the look of the glove. This was crucial to establish as our target market is slightly more affluent and their tastes to products reflect that.
In our application, we extract from the glove the grip factor of the hand on a paddle and the angle of the hand during the rowing stroke. Based on acceleration data, we are able to extract the tempo of the different rowers and determine if one of them is slightly ahead or behind the pack, which can really impact the result of a race, knowing that only a few seconds normally separate the first and second places in races than span several kilometers.
The grip and the hand position when maneuvering the oar are crucial to transfer the maximum force and reduce the friction with water and air.
Rowing is practiced by about a quarter of a million of Americans. Research shows that the sport represents more than half a billion dollar market in the US. Adepts usually have the disposable income to afford equipment that will improve increase their performance and allow to track it effectively.
A wearable device is the best fit for this application, given that the boat can travel at a speed exceeding 25km/h and there can be as many as 8 crew members in a boat, in addition to the coxswain. To collect all this movement data and determine room for improvement in fraction of seconds, the sensor definitely needs to be placed right at movement site.
Given that the glove is unobtrusive and can be made water resistant, our technology really fills a gap in terms of comparing the hand movements and the timing of a crew wanting to perform to their best.
Other than rowing our solution can easily be adapted to dragon boats and even to solving couple fighting about their canoe or kayak never going straight. Non-motorized boating actually touches one fifth of the American population in one form or another.
We are very enthusiastic about this idea and strongly believe in its commercial potential. We plan to push forward and we believe that this technology will help get rowers on the podium in the short future. We would. Thus monetizing from the idea is achievable with our two part business plan.
Our primary way we would monetize the product is from the consumer purchasing the gloves directly from us. Which would cost roughly $150. With purchasing the gloves the players/coach will automatically gain access to their real time statistics on our mobile platform without charge.
We are aware that elite trainers and teams are more likely to seek more in depth statistics than just live data. That's where our secondary plan would come in. Our web portal allows to track historical data and compare the individual performances of the rowers. Keeping the data online makes it accessible to all the interested parties, including coaches and trainers for a monthly subscription fee.
We use the IBM Bluemix services because of the scalability of its storage, the convenience of its deployment tools, its reliability and security, and the richness of its programming environment.