September update: GPS, Design Team + Open Water

Dr Lex Mauger, James Hogg and Sophie Tyson. Leybourne Lake. Sept 2018.

Developing a GPS feature for SwimAR

We discovered early on in the trials that GPS was going to be an important feature, enabling more effective training beyond the pool and to help those less confident in open water. 

In response to this, over the last six months, we have reconfigured the electronics, so that GPS can be integrated in the first version of SwimAR and we plan to test it in open water early next year. This redesign also gives us scope to include important features like bluetooth functionality for downloading data wirelessly.

As part of the development of the GPS function we have connected with the University of Kent to carry out a baseline study of the accuracy of open water swimmers, when trying to follow a course without any technological input (photo above).

These results are going to help us understand what KPIs (key performance indicators) we can put around how this technology helps you swim well. Does SwimAR give 3% or 10% greater accuracy in open water swims? What does that mean in terms of how much quicker you are or if you’re a triathlete, how much energy you have after that leg of the competition, when you prepare to jump on your bike? 

What will you see on the GPS display?

We had a superb response from our fanbase last month, who helped us review our latest UI (user interface) design for SwimAR when used in open water using GPS to wayfind. The insights and ideas have been a huge help to steer the layout and content of the display.

We are really keen to stay engaged as we jointly develop this product and if you’re on our mailing list, we’ll be in touch soon with another element of the design for your opinion.

Mark, tell us what’s inspired you this week

Mark,of the Imagination Factory:

"Because of SwimAR I’ve been watching the updates from Ross Edgley (above) on his #GreatBritishSwim where he’s trying to swim all the way around the British Isles. Something he said in his update this week really interested me. It was along the lines of: 'I needed to be naïve enough to begin but stubborn enough to finish.'

I thought, ‘that applies really well to sport, especially a really adventurous endeavour, but it’s also a great description of what we are trying to do as a business, with SwimAR.’"

Product design team

Mark continues: "It was our enthusiasm as product designers that got us started, knowing we could solve the problem of designing a heads-up display for swimmers. But, without a doubt we didn’t know quite how much we would have to go through over the next 12 months to turn SwimAR into a sustainable business, with a long-term future.

Much like some of the swimmers and triathletes we’ve met along the way, without the resilience and stubbornness we’ve developed, we would not be having the conversations we are having today with investors and athletes.

On reflection, we made the right decision to pause our crowdfunding campaign earlier this year. This enabled us to take a different route towards investment that will support a larger development prorgamme including a GPS function for wayfinding in open water swimming.

Building the business

We always wanted to build SwimAR in such a way that the business would last the distance and not just manufacture a batch of SwimAR then disappear off the scene. But as you might imagine, it’s been a vastly different process building a product manufacturing business, than the creative design and engineering studio, (The Imagination Factory) we established in 2015. 

Much of our recent developments and insight, has come through our involvement in the Augmentor programme.

Digital Catapault

In June we were selected out of 165 start-ups to be one of 10 businesses on a government backed accelerator programme. This has connected us with industry experts and investors, provided support and connections that guided us along the way. We’ve had some very interesting propositions to develop SwimAR for other sports and sectors, but for now we are focusing on transforming the experience of swimming.

We are really excited about the investor showcase, scheduled for the end of September, when we get to speak on AR in sport and meet with investors specifically interested in partnering with and investing in SwimAR. We will update you early October.

Shout out to Fiona Mildner

Finally, we wanted to finish this update with a shout out to Fiona Mildner who was among the very first people to try SwimAR and features in our video

In August, Fiona completed her swim across the English Channel in an incredible time of 11 hours and 15 minutes.

Fiona took up her challenge to raise money for a charity called SeaSure that aims to promote the benefits of sea swimming.

Head on over to her Just Giving page if you want to make a donation to this great cause.


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