When we announced a real-time firmware release last July, it felt like ground breaking news for our brand. And it was! Since that exciting day, our real-time announcement has become our most read article of all time. Pod users with compatible watches and apps were thrilled to get some foot-based (read: accurate) data broadcast straight to their watch during their run. Runners could now get in the game with Zwift Run and other virtual platforms for a low price. Treadmill users could get data on their GPS watch without a GPS signal. Life was good for MilestonePod users.
But we felt handcuffed! The Pod had the ability to broadcast all it’s data in real-time, but quite literally, there was nowhere to put it. Compatible watches could only accept the standard BLE profile of cadence, stride length, pace, distance and duration. We dreamt of giving users the option to see ALL their Pod metrics in real-time! Imagine seeing each foot strike in real-time on your watch…is it heel, mid or toe? Is it low impact, mid or high? What about leg swing?
So in late summer 2017, we decided to build our own solution.
Around this same time, global powerhouse Qualcomm approached us with a partnership idea. For the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) scheduled for January in Las Vegas, they were planning a wearables focus area around “the connected life” featuring a family: Mom would wear a smart fashion watch. Dad would wear a smart sports watch. Kid would wear a smart child’s watch and a location tracker. Dog would wear a smart tracking collar. Qualcomm was the chip maker for all these wearables. But they were missing one thing: a smart shoe!
Our interest was piqued. #MakeAnyShoeSmart is our motto!
Fast forward a few weeks and we were suddenly on the path to creating a reference design for Qualcomm’s “smart shoe.” The shoe, enabled by an embedded MilestonePod (termed “puck”), would broadcast ALL the Pod data to any smart sports watch.
Thus, MilestonePod Watch App and MilestonePuck was born!
Throughout the fall of 2017, our tech teams in Tel Aviv and the U.S. and Qualcomm’s tech teams in China and California worked in tandem to make the puck and watch apps happen FAST. Qualcomm provided the chips for the “pucks” while our Director of Research, Dr. Stephen Suydam, worked diligently to write the algorithms that would go on those chips, as our proprietary algorithms now need to read accurately from IN the shoe versus ON the shoe.
His many lab hours also included trips to work with our elite athlete ambassador Dr. Jackie Merritt and her team at Emory University, and Dr. Jill Higginson and Dr. Karin Silbernagel at the University of Delaware. University of Delaware graduate student Pat Corrigan (pictured left) and lab assistant Nadia Khoury spent hours of their own time making sure our data was up to par. We are indebted to BOTH teams!
Since Qualcomm is the world’s #1 chip provider for Android devices and wearables, the project with them was solely focused on an Android Wear App. Since we did not have enough going on (ha!), we decided to develop an Apple Watch App at the same time.
From start to finish, this smart shoe project only took four months to be ready for CES demo.
Show time: CES 2018!
When you are a small and nimble company, each employee wears many (many!) hats, and our CTO is no exception. Although Meir Machlin led the charge on the technical side of the project, he was also tasked with selling it. So on the first weekend in January, while still sodering chips into pucks that were HOT of the assembly line, Meir flew from Tel Aviv to Las Vegas where he met up with our CEO Jason Kaplan. Together, they proudly marched into the largest consumer electronic show in the world.
Setting the stage.
The week proved to be a whirlwind. Jason and Meir carted around watches loaded with the MilestonePuck App along with shoes and midsoles housing the MilestonePuck. They joined a number of Qualcomm conversations and held many meetings on their own with shoe brands, watch brands, virtual gaming brands and running industry media.
Anyone that has been to large industry shows knows – deals are not made on the show floor. These shows, the massive CES event especially, are there to make connections with the goal of follow up meetings and demos in the weeks and months to follow. The CES event might be over, but the project is really just beginning!
We are as excited as some of you are to debuted the MilestonePod/Puck Watch App. However, we still have a ways to go. No beta trial or launch date has been set, but we wanted to share a little preview with you, our valued fans.
Please note: in the images below, design is for demo/reference only and does not necessarily represent final product.