Now on the crowd-funding tee: a golf product that can help you hit more fairways and greens.
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Using a mix of sensors, GPS and near-field communication technologies, Game Golf tracks each shot during a player’s round. Data from each round can be accessed on smartphones, tablets or personal computers to give players feedback to improve their performances. They can also share golf highlights with friends on the most popular social networks.
San Francisco-based developer Active Mind Technology is using crowd-funding site Indiegogo.Com to match its first production models with early-adopter golfers. In addition to a small wearable data-collecting sensor that clips onto your belt, Game Golf has small sensors that fit into the grip of each golf club. The funding campaign, launched today at www.Gameyourgame.Com, lets early adopters get involved for $149 and up. When the system is generally available for $249, consumers will get the system and a one-year subscription to the data service.
“We’re leveraging technology to create an experience that allows people to change their behavior … (And) see, share and compare their round of golf,” says John McGuire, CEO and co-founder of Active Mind Technology, which plans to create similar products for other sports. “We want to create something that’s simple and fun. You can share your longest drive or that long putt (on social networks) and compete against yourself and others wherever they are in the world.”.
Early testing has been done by internationally known pro golfers Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell. Jawbone design guru Yves Béhar oversaw the design of the Game Golf device. “The design of (the app) and product has been closely integrated: a beautiful and dynamic presentation of play data, easy and fun ways to share, non-disruptive hardware and experience,” said Béhar, who is also CEO of design firm fuseproject, in an e-mail exchange. “The design and user interface is crafted to deliver a 21st century experience of the game.”.
The idea for the golf program came to McGuire after talking to some of the best golf coaches in the U.S. And his native country of Ireland. They all yearned for an easy way to collect data about the sport. Current methods of monitoring tournaments in real-time includes up to 300 workers making notes on players’ shots and results.
“I started thinking about how to make it easier and give all golfers access to the type of data that professional golfers rely on to improve their game,” McGuire says. “We make it really simple and enjoyable to use. That’s where we create the stickiness.”.
The wearable device can handle about two rounds of golf. During the round, players bring the top of their club to the device each time before they take a shot. Using near-field communication technology — such as found in Google Wallet — a radio connection is made between the device and the sensors, allowing the device to record each shot and the club used.
When players get near their smartphones, data are transferred constantly via Bluetooth to Game Golf servers. That data, combined with GPS positioning about where the player has been on the golf course, provide a seamless record of the round. Players can also get real-time updates on their phones to see and compare past performances, compete against fellow golfers and share their highlights.
Game Golf has already established a database of major golf courses and is conducting site visits to more golf courses for the underlying data maps needed to superimpose players’ round information upon. Other favorite courses of early Indiegogo supporters will be added, too.
The campaign is perfect for a crowd-funded approach, says Indiegogo co-founder Danae Ringelmann. “Crowd funding is incredibly powerful, especially for products and gadgets and hardware-type products, because it’s not just an alternative form of finance for these ventures, but it’s also an incredible way to market-test their products,” she says.
The company, which has investors that include pro surfer Kelly Slater, expects to use the technology in other sports, but McGuire was mum on the next play. “We are developing a platform here, which can be transferred to a wide range of sport,” McGuire says, “and our first conquest is golf.”.