Project Details

Innovation for recreational competitiveness.

After delaying the product due to unsatisfactory market conditions, this customer came to CES to help design, engineer, and manufacture a connected device that lets athletes track their performance to help improve their game.

CHALLENGE

Ramping up development and production can be difficult on a tight timeline. It can be even more difficult if the product development process has been on hold for six months. That was the challenge faced by the customer. A leader in fitness and sporting innovation, the customer came to CES to develop a device that would help athletes improve their game by tracking performance metrics. From the project’s beginning, we were chosen as a complete product lifecycle management partner, slated to perform design, engineering, and manufacturing services in addition to aiding in new product introduction. The goal of the device was to track the player’s precise location and relevant performance metrics to connect that information with a database. This information would then be stored in the device and downloaded later through the player’s smartphone app.

However, before the Development Phase was completed, the customer decided to delay the launch. Six months later, device development was resumed with hopes to complete the device on an accelerated timeline.

SOLUTION

This customer initially commissioned our design team to create use cases and determine how the device would be used with athletes. The team spent weeks studying and interviewing avid athletes to ascertain crucial design elements that would help the device to enhance the fitness experience without disrupting it. The design team worked closely with the customer throughout the process to make sure that the overall product design mirrored the customer’s brand identity of innovation and quality. Our team worked with the customer to determine that the design met all of the current product requirements. With the requirements determined we progressed to the development phase, where the project was placed on hiatus.

When the customer returned to bring the product to market, our team of designers, engineers and manufacturing experts regrouped to assess user expectations and market conditions to ensure that the project could move forward successfully.

To accommodate the accelerated timeline our electrical, software, and mechanical engineering teams then quickly identified open issues and create a new development plan. It was already determined that GPS would be incorporated into the compact device. Electrical engineers tested different antennas that would provide geo-location precision to within less than 2 meters. The antenna needed to be small to fit into the wearable device, but powerful enough to provide the exact GPS location of the athlete at all times.

Software engineers required a second antenna to be incorporated into the design. This antenna would connect the device to the athlete’s smartphone via Bluetooth® technology. The customer chose to partner with a third party app vendor, whose web app houses a comprehensive catalog of popular fitness race courses around the globe. Integrating the web app into the device’s functioning allows players to track their location and performance within that race course. The process was even accelerated by our software engineers, who had previously completed the Made for iPhone (MFi) licensing program to get the required tools and training to integrate this technology into the device.

The customer also wanted the device to identify and track the athlete’s sporting equipment. To do this, the customer would need to integrate RFID chips into their complete line of athletic equipment. A RFID chip reader is placed within the device so the athlete can simply swipe the equipment past the device clipped on their hip. The remaining challenge was to get the RFID reader to scan only the equipment being used by the athlete and exclude other nearby equipment. Our engineers used near field communication technology to reduce the power and the antenna strength so that the RFID chip had only the appropriate range. Our mechanical engineers then ruggedized the product to make sure it was not only easy to use, but usable in all weather and wet conditions.

Finally, our new product introduction and manufacturing team worked with the customer to ensure that the supply chain and manufacturing schedule was set to meet the new timeline.

RESULTS

By leveraging the previous design and development efforts, we were able to quickly and efficiently begin development. The product’s new launch strategy would help the product to more efficiently get to market. This device helps to create recurring revenue streams for the customer while increasing customer touch points along the lifecycle of their line of products. The device went to market and quickly gained immense popularity.

CUSTOMER PROFILE

The customer is a world leader in fitness innovation. The company helps athletes play their best by using innovative technology to increase the performance of fitness equipment and apparel.

  • Project Name Performance Tracker
  • Client A RECREATIONAL FITNESS COMPANY