Imagine a stylish, watch-type device that not only tells the time but can track stats ranging from airtime to number of times you paddle surfing, knows what sport you’re participating in automatically, spits out stats on your mobile device, and lets you build contests to one up yourself and your friends.
This futuristic idea came to the crew at NZN Labs and Vapor Studio, and they’ve turned their dream into reality with a new action sports-specific activity tracker called LIT, which debuted on Indiegogo April 2, raising $27k of its $100k goal in just one day.
Conceived by NZN’s Ricardo Camargo, Michael Ford, and Richard Zinn, the crew’s goal is to do for the activity tracking market what GoPro did for camera world, and after looking through the functionality, it looks like they’re onto something big:
We sat down with Michael Ford, co-founder and CEO of NZN Lab, to learn more about LIT’s functionality, goals, and the Indiegogo launch.
Where did the idea for LIT come from? Tell us about the "aha" moment that spawned it.
LIT really was a lifetime in the making. Richard Zinn grew up in a household with a scientist/nutritionist father who kept a very regimented workout schedule--90-minute Stairmaster workouts, six days a week. While being very effective at keeping the family fit, he always felt there were more ways to stay fit and happy just by simply doing the active things you love. LIT is a result of that lifestyle and it breathes the ethos and values of people who live action-inspired lifestyles. When we say LIT is action-oriented we mean that it recognizes that going for a run, then doing some house work is not the same level of exertion as a day out at the MX track.
MEET THE TEAM BEHIND LIT:
How long did the development process take and what were some of the big hurdles you had to clear to turn your functionality ideas into reality. What other areas did you borrow from?
The development process has taken us almost two years. Richard was invested part-time for the first six months. He soon realized we had something big and he eventually decided to make this a full-time effort. We believe it too, so now we’re all in.
One of the big hurdles we faced was making sure LIT had a high level of accuracy so that every metric and measurement gave a true score based on the activity and/or sport being done. We spent seemingly endless hours testing algorithms, scrutinizing our sensor abilities, reviewing time-synced videos, and comparing data. I am very proud to say that all of the hard work paid off and LIT will have a very high level of accuracy that Action Sports enthusiasts will appreciate.
Tell us about the design. What were the goals for it as far as looks as well as from a functional standpoint?
Our design goals really focused on three key factors.
- Make LIT Purposeful: LIT is stylish. We made sure that people are going to want to wear LIT 24 x 7, whether they’re on a night out with friends or engaging in their favorite Action Sport.
- Make LIT Modular: It’s more than just a watch. The module for LIT is meant to be worn during a variety of activities, being easily transferable from a wrist to a belt or anywhere else it makes sense, depending on the activity.
- Make LIT rugged: It’s designed for extreme activities, making it ideal for dirt, snow, water, and really anywhere people participate in action.
What else can LIT be used for to make it functional outside of action sports?
LIT is an activity tracker designed to be worn 24×7, no matter the occasion and in its simplest form, LIT functions as a normal watch and pedometer. In the design process we took all of the popular features of activity trackers and just added to it.
Our priority is to create products that people love. We are trying to engage the more than 20 million enthusiasts who love action sports like surf, snow, skate, bmx, moto, et cetera. We plan to do this by providing a tool for them to score and validate the athletic movements and stamina of their lifestyle. LIT is providing a new way to share and compare their accomplishments. If we do our job well, we will help to create a new platform for camaraderie and competition in action sports.
If we deliver on this priority, the rest will come and we'll build a great company. Ricardo often reminds me that we have a long way to go and our Indiegogo.com campaign is just the starting line.
How will you be distributing LIT? What's the retail model?
We are just getting started. The most important thing for us at this stage is to continue to improve the product based on direct customer feedback. The best way to accomplish this is by going directly to the consumer, which is why we are only offering LIT on Indiegogo.
We are also looking for early-adopter retail partners to provide us with information about what works for LIT in retail environments. We have created the Board Shop perk that includes 24 units for $2,499 and the Warehouse perk that includes 120 units for $9,999.
As we evolve, I'd like to see LIT in specialty retail stores like board or skate shops and others that cater to action sports, with it eventually being offered in more traditional big sports retailers. At this point, we need to build a strong group of enthusiasts that we engage with as we work to take LIT to the next level and I think Indiegogo.com is the way to go.
How about your marketing plan to support that?
Our marketing plan is focused on engaging directly with the public with demos and events. We want to be immersed in the culture of action sports. LIT teams will be at skate parks, beaches, slopes, tracks and engaging with athletes and getting feedback. LIT will also be at sponsored events that attract everyday people who enjoy these types of sports.
We want people to touch LIT, test it, and get a feel for how it works. By doing this, we know that people will come to appreciate what we've done and become supporters. The Indiegogo campaign that launched on April 2nd gives us the ability to reach the public regardless of their location. We'll continue with more traditional means of marketing as we continue to grow and evolve.
Why did you partner with Indiegogo on this and what does that campaign look like?
Indiegogo gives us a platform to reach people across the world who want to be early adopters and live an action sports lifestyle. We have set a goal of $100,000 so we are taking it one day at a time starting on April 2nd.
You guys are launching at $149 but the intro price on Indiegogo is $99. Is that just for contributors?
We are launching with an early adopter price of $99 for a limited time. Once the early adopter units sell out sell out, we will continue to offer LIT for $129 through the course of the Indiegogo campaign which ends on Friday, May 3rd. Once we finish on Indiegogo, LIT will be offered at the retail price of $149.
When will this be available to consumers and retailers?
LIT will be available to consumers and retailers beginning this Fall.
What data is available straight from the device?
The LIT device displays time, cumulative score, steps, and battery life. The free downloadable app will offer a majority of the information. It’s designed this way to optimize the battery life of the module. LIT can be worn for more than four days without a recharge. The app will provide details on your day-to-day activities as well as specific details about the action sports you participate in. LIT will measure and record paddles, big air, total air, g-force, jumps, turns, rotations, and a variety of other metrics and scores.
Tell us about the iPhone and upcoming Android interfaces. How do users synch them, what does the data look like, and what can be done with it as far as sharing?
LIT will initially launch exclusively on iOS with the Android interface coming in 2014.
People who use LIT will be able to seamlessly transfer data automatically from the module to their phone using Bluetooth 4.0. Data from action experiences are auto-generated, so things like max airtime will be calculated and stored for an individual session on a racetrack. If users snap photos or take videos during their sessions, they can share them and upload directly to their social sites to complement their data, activity score and other accomplishments.
How does it determine what sport you're participating in?
LIT has a family of sensors housed in the module that analyze movements 24/7. The engineering starts with the collecting of data we call "training sets." Each millisecond of data from those training sets is categorized and interpreted to score activity and actions like steps, duration, intensity, strokes, paddles, jumps, etc. LIT breaks these movements down into relevant components and through this analysis, LIT can tell what activity you are doing. So if you are out on the slopes snowboarding, LIT will automatically know and interpret data accordingly.
I like the idea of setting competitions and the gamification amongst friends based on certain attributes like most airtime. How do these contests work and will LIT be conducting them or is it just amongst friends?
LIT brings out the competitor in everyone. People will be able to not just challenge themselves but their friends too. Say for instance you have a friend that always talks about their gnarly airtime. LIT allows you to call out your friend and directly challenge them in a game of one-up. User 1, the bragger, would send out the challenge to User 2 using the mobile app. User 2 would accept and they would have a predetermined time on the course to see who really did get the most airtime. The winner will have official bragging rights, the info to back it up, and the ability to share their triumphs across all of their social networks.
What functionality are you hoping to add next?
We are always thinking creatively about how to move forward and add functionality to LIT and everything we do. We will be continuing to engage in dialogue with athletes to include them in our next steps, but our immediate focus is to bring LIT to the public now with a powerful combination of accuracy and usability and I know that we've done that.