- 9 February 2017
In today’s sports wearables, feedback is provided on wrist wear devices. For almost every sport this is suitable, except for swimming. “Simply because you are not able to see anything”, Aldas Juronis, CEO and co-founder of Ovao, tells. “We were looking for the least intrusive ways of providing feedback to swimmers.” They found it in colors and beeps. Aldas and his team are participating in this edition of HighTechXL.
“We call ourselves a smart swimming company”, Aldas continues. Besides him, Kamilė Butkevičiūtė, CMO and co-founder, Justinas Gasparovičius, biomedical engineer and co-founder, and Marius Gailius, biomedical engineer and co-founder, take a part in the team. They are from Lithuania and are here “to work”. “Hardware is really hard and you really need to have a drive to go on. We try not to close doors, if we have an undoable deadline we think: Ok but how can we do it differently”, Kamilė says.
Their device is attached to a strap of the swimming goggles. Before jumping in the water you choose a training program in the Ovao app, for example fat burning or endurance training. While swimming multi-color LED indications display the current intensity you are exercising in as well as guide you through your workout, helping to keep up the right intensity. Every workout starts from a warm up zone, indicated by a blue color.
After 5 to 10 minutes the LED will blink, meaning that you have to increase your speed. It changes color when you are in your second heart rate zone. “You just have to remember five colors which indicate your heart rate zone. And when you are able to track your heart rate zones while training you can achieve better results within less time”, Aldas explains.
The device can track other parameters as well, such as stroke rate, lap time, lap count and pace. These workout parameters can be downloaded to a workout history for further analysis. “An integrated tempo trainer will let you improve your pace while using special beeper signal.”
One year ago the idea came to one of the founders of the company, Ilja Laurs- a successful serial entrepreneur and a founder of Venture Capital company Nextury Ventures. He works in a startup environment and being a passionate swimmer himself, according to Aldas, he realized that there were no trackers available for swimmers. Justinas Gasparovicius and Marius Gailius made a first working prototype of the device and validated the concept. At that time Aldas and Kamile joined the team as co-founders in order to bring this product to the market.
“Although our name doesn’t have a meaning, we have an inner joke. The way how you pronounce it is unique: ‘O wow’”, Kamilė laughs. “And it is not just the product but especially the team. After meeting with Ilja, I actually fell in love with them. The thing is that I am passionate about sports but having experience with startups I realized that it is not really about the product, it is much more about making it as a team. The team makes it happen. I do feel that this team can deliver a world class product. A wearable device for swimmers all over the world because we have a good mix of experience and knowledge. I love our product but then again: it is our first, we will grow.”
“Technical team is a key in wearable devices development process. Justinas and Marius are crucial in the team as they have knowledge and understanding of the biological signal analysis as well as about electronics and sensors”, Aldas tells. Both guys are “brilliant engineers”, according to Aldas and Kamilė, being awarded in various engineering competitions. One of them is in the US at the moment. Aldas: “He is working with us from a distance.”
With Aldas focusing on the business development and production, Kamilė focusing on Marketing and Communications, they are eager to engage two new team members. “This is one of our main goals, while being here. We are looking for a passionate industrial designer who also understands swimming. Our design needs to be improved. And we are looking for an app developer. We need to develop an Ovao app which would enable users to analyze their swimming performance parameters. So anyone who would want to join us, let us know.”
“We really like it here, this is like a silicon valley for Europe. On campus there are so many engineering companies. And it is a well-established place for swimmers. With a number of swimming pools, and especially the Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium. We are already in contact with InnoSportLab where they have state of the art facilities and has a lot of knowledge in measuring swimming performance parameters. We will start testing our product there later this month”, Aldas tells.
The three of them will go back to Lithuania after finishing the program, but they will stay connected with this area. Kamilė: “We will continue to work with InnoSportsLab, Dutch swimming communities and coaches we had opportunity to get into contact with. And of course when we find new team members here, we can work together even from a distance. It is just a two hour flight from Vilnius to Eindhoven.”
Want to improve your swimming workouts? Join Ovao swimmers community on www.ovao.com.