Having a ski instructor or coach on the slopes with you and getting tips on improving your technique at all times – this is something that would help professional and casual skiers alike. This is now possible with 116 sensors packed into two insoles combined with a small tracker box on the back of the boot: Each sensor measures pressure distribution and movement in the boot 200 times per second. The data is sent to your smartphone where it is analyzed. Once the information has been processed, the skier receives tips on how they can improve their technique – straight to their ear.
London start-up Motion Metrics spent two years developing and producing prototypes for detailed analysis of skiers’ technique. The result was two inserts with 58 sensors each and two transponders that analyze data and filter it into actionable information for the skier.
The company was founded by Jamie Grant once he completed his degree. He’s now CEO. He has a PhD in Financial Economics as well as a Master’s degree in Physics. Together with a few friends from Imperial College London, Grant founded Motion Metrics. Most of the employees are graduates who have completed their degrees in the last two years.
Wearable for amateurs and pros
Grant describes his product as “next-level technology for trainers,” who, thanks to Carv, now no longer have to rely solely on video images but can also analyze the data on the display alongside the video. “You no longer have to guess and estimate” what exactly the athlete is doing wrong. You can now measure everything extremely precisely: Is too much or too little pressure being placed on the outer ski? Is the skier’s posture correct? Where can you make small adjustments to gain even more speed and perfect the technique?
But Carv will bring clear added value for amateurs as well: “We wanted to produce a primarily consumer product. Our system should be affordable enough for everyone to be able to afford it,” says Grant. The device is available starting at $169 on Kickstarter.
So skiers don’t have to go through the effort of carefully evaluating their performance afterwards, suggestions for improvement are sent directly to their ears in real-time. The only extra equipment needed is a smartphone with headphones: “But the real-time feedback is not going constantly – that would drive you crazy,” says Grant. The system only gives advice on how to adjust your technique when you make the same mistakes repeatedly. It’s like having a ski instructor with you at all times, wherever you go.
Fitness app Moov is based on a similar idea and has already been quite successful. It measures athletes’ performance using a fitness band and can give them tips and motivation.
Financing through crowdfunding
Though the project is still in its infancy, the young team has already developed 20 prototypes. This means that they were at least able to exhibit their wearables at ISPO MUNICH. Carv is being financed by investment company Hax. The company provides hardware start-ups support and advises them during development.
This boost in financing has allowed Jamie Grant and his colleagues to really grow their company: “Two years ago we started taping iPhones to ski boots. Then we used sensors from another company. Now we’ve developed our own sensors to bring the price down,” explains Grant.
Starting now, they’ll be rustling up their funding from crowdfunding website Kickstarter. The team has been gathering funds since February 10th and reached $50,000 within two days to get the next production process going. “We reached our break even point. We are really pleased with the start of the campaign.” says Grant. The more funding they gather, the more can be produced and the better the technology can be refined.
Until now there have only been similar wearables. The German Ski Association was using a technology but it required an entire backpack to be worn to analyze the data, says Grant. The start up saw a gap in the market here: Grant and his friends at Motion Metrics are researching an affordable alternative that won’t require a backpack to produce precise data.
Nevertheless, they have yet to reach their goal: After launching on Kickstarter, the company aims to bring the best ski tracker to market in a mini format – without external financing.