Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Quiske RowP (The RowP system by Quiske Ltd is a game changing rowing technique measuring and coaching system for any level of rowers or crew both outdoor and indoors.)
Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2018-10-31
We’re currently living in the golden age of sports technology. There’s more and more data available to analyze sports performance, and technique. Many sports, such as running and cycling, are ahead of rowing in terms of the availability of different types of gadgets you can buy and the numbers of metrics you can track. Rowers and coaches have traditionally had limited choices for measuring rowing technique. There was the expensive and time-consuming option to hire an expert running complex wired equipment. However, this option came with the hurdle of having to make sense of all the data only after downloading it once off the water. Additionally, the data wasn’t digitally shared with the rower, making it difficult to track changes in performance. Earlier only the world’s elite rowers could afford the expensive measurements and the vast majority of the active rowers in the world never had their technique measured. There are tens of millions of people rowing on indoor rowing machines in gyms worldwide, most of them with defective technique, moving back and forth on the machine without coordination. Rowing wrong not only feels uncomfortable, but can also be dangerous, many studies prove that lower back and rib injuries are quite common among rowers.
The Quiske system comprises of a sensor, a so-called pod, a phone app, advanced algorithms, and a cloud service for data storage and analysis. The system is suitable for all rowers, elite rowers as well as for beginners and for club coaches. Additionally, the system allows rowers to coach themselves, is easy to install, gives instant feedback, and includes innovative cloud analytics providing facts for discussion. Instant feedback allows constantly making small adjustments to learn faster, and the effortless measurement enables systematic tracking.
The Quiske system consists of
• kinetic sensor(s), so called pod(s), placed on the oar and/or the seat
• the Quiske RowP App, a phone application measuring and analyzing acceleration of the boat or indoor rower handle
• a cloud service to store, to analyze and to allow comparison of technique within rowers in a crew
Indoors the Quiske RowP App comes with a Virtual Coach, developed during the Horizon 2020 project, which gives instant feedback on rhythm and timing, allowing anyone to get a hang of the right coordination. The Virtual Coach brings much needed focus not only on power but also on technique. Rowing requires perfect coordination which is easily practiced indoors. Instant feedback on rhythm and timing allows anyone to strive for the right coordination, which makes rowing more efficient and healthier for the body.
The analyzed data is and remains the property of the rowers, and even when they change coaches or clubs they can show their history in technique through the cloud service. Rowers can share/unshare their data for analysis to any number of coaches, enabling also remote coaching. This also opens up new business opportunities for professional coaches around the world, allowing coaches be a more shared resource among a larger number of rowers. The metrics can also act as a kind of translator between older experienced coaches with their wealth of silent knowledge and younger rowers accustomed to measuring themselves and having data to back up claims and prove progress. The metrics can corroborate the statements by the coach, the measured facts can act as a bridge of understanding between the coach and the rower.
Getting the hang of the correct coordination and rhythm can make rowing feel like dancing. The Quiske App, pod, and cloud modernize and democratize the sport of rowing due to superior feedback, analytics and virtual coaching which can be afforded even by leisure indoor rowers.
The uniqueness and beauty of Quiske RowP system is that it works in all boats and technically all indoor rowing machines. Globally there are 3-4 major indoor brands and huge number of smaller ones. Variation between markets is big, and new indoor rowers are still introduced. Indoor rowing machine has typically built-in monitor which measures power and speed. Quiske app brings additional value by providing instant feedback about rower’s technique.
Why is it important for society?
Society as we know it is growing older and is struggling with various new health issues that are brought by lack of exercise and too much weight. Indoor rowing is the most efficient sport which almost anyone no matter age, gender, weight or fitness can do. Indoor rowing comes with valuable health benefits that anyone can gain. It allows you to improve your body composition and to keep muscle as you grow older. The sport is very low impact (compare to e.g. running) but gives high results. It allows you to really challenge yourself and thereby can also improve your mental health. Indoor rowing is a cardiovascular exercise which can reduce your risk for heart disease. When done correctly rowing is safe, but you do need a coach.
Indoor rowing has recently been growing in popularity and there are tens of millions of indoor rowing machines all around the world. Almost every gym has at least one or two rowing machines. However, we estimate that >95% of gym rowers don’t know how to row properly and are therefore not getting the full benefits of it. This is where Quiske can help. The Quiske Virtual Coach democratizes the playing field by giving anyone a coach who pays attention to your every rowing stroke and encourages you to go on.
Additionally, Quiske invites you become part of a community of rowers, to spur you on and to share your progress with.
What are the overall objectives?
The objectives of the Horizon 2020 project were to
1. create a plan for how to roll out the system globally
2. to create a high-volume product to help people learn indoor rowing, and
3. to gather customer feedback regarding our pilot product and to get validation of feasibility.
The project succeeded in all of these three targets even though some changes were made to the actual product. The project resulted in an updated business idea, negotiations with 3 potential new vendors, collaboration with other companies in SportsTech as well as in a new version of the product, updated based on direct customer feedback. We also managed to launch a beta release of an iOS version of the App, with very active beta testers from around the world.
We published a 40 page Guide on how to measure rowing technique online. The Guide also included our full roadmap for the next few years. We asked our target customers to prioritize the items on the roadmap. We also made online questionnaires on what aspects of our product are most attractive and useful. Based on feedback from our target customers we tweaked the roadmap and made quick changes to our App too.
The Virtual Coach was initially introduced inside the graph view as an arrow next to any of the numerical metrics that needed changes. Pretty soon we realized that this kind of virtual coaching is too complicated for normal customers to understand. During this project we were able to make two major iterations of the virtual coach using agile methods. The final version of the virtual coach has a new technique view which provides visual feedback in an easy and understandable format for the rower. Feedback from our customers has been very positive. Paying customers are able easily to demonstrate this and sell the benefits of Quiske app to their colleagues, too.
Improvements to the Quiske RowP App :
• New visualization of indoor rowing technique with an easy to understand Virtual Coach
• Session sharing: An entertaining summary screen with technique index and an inspirational quote for sharing on social media
• Support was built for two new rowing machine types: The dynamic rower and the static rower on slides. This means that technically the Quiske system supports all the rowing machines in the market and it is easy to add new rowers from branding point of view (a new icon with configurable parameters inside the App)
Enhancements were also made to improve the indoor algorithms (Virtual Coach adaptation to stroke rate).
The improvements were initially coded into the existing Android application and were finally ported to the new iOS version which was being build from scratch. We were able to attract a very good group of beta-testers (all of them paying customers) willing to find bugs and provide feedback while developing the iOS version. Providing support both for Android and iOS platforms is a must today. There are some markets where iOS is very dominate for rowers. We have learnt that rowers prefer using their personal device for their technique measurements, especially in indoors.
Close co-operation with local rowing club users has taught us the importance of usability and simplicity. We have made several small usability enhancements for the product which will be publicly available not only for the Android but also for the iOS community at the end of November.
Improvements to the Quiske cloud service:
The web portal was improved with better navigation and the possibility to align different types of graphs right next to each other to allow easier comparison. Our online questionnaire revealed that >80% of our target customers want to make use of the web portal for remote coaching, and we are continuously working on making the portal as simple and easy to use as possible.
We switched from the 3D printed sensor casing to a much more sleek and marketable mass molded casing.
Initially we had three brands: Quiske (Company), RowP (application) and RowingPerformance (web page). Based on the feedback from customers and advisors during the project we are replacing the RowP acronym in the application name to the company name Quiske. It seems that Quiske as a brand is well received and in spite of or perhaps because of it’s uniqueness and difficult pronunciation our customers prefer Quiske over RowP.
Building the community
In addition to building the high volume indoor rowing product based on customer feedback the project work also resulted in a crystallized go to market plan. The team met with potential distributors and negotiations are ongoing regarding new sales channels in China, Norway, and Germany.
A customer mailing list has been built and we send regular newsletters as well as write informative blogs on rowing technique at least once per month. We build close relationships and get to know their needs better not only via online questionnaires but also with direct one to one communication either face to face or via skype or email.
We created YouTube/FB and Instagram videos with tutorials on how to use the product. The videos show how to use the product in different types of rowing boats and on indoor rowers. The videos also show how faulty rowing technique easily can be detected and corrected for using the Quiske system.
We contacted rowing community influencers by providing our system for their free testing and evaluation. The feedback was very positive. One of the headlines was “Why The Quiske Pod Could Be The Next Big Thing In Rowing – Improve Your Rowing Technique” by rowing coach Bergenroth. Face-to-face meetings and word of mouth advertising are still the strongest sales enablers amongst the rowers and although we have sold to >15 different countries via our online shop the face to face selling in our own market in Finland remains the strongest.
Quiske participated in many face to face events with good promotion opportunities: London SpinLab SportsTech accelerator, SmashLondon, GoExpo Helsinki, SinaComb Beijing as well as rowing regattas in Finland and Germany. Next events coming up are the Smash SportsTech event in Helsinki and the startup conference Slush in December. Quiske is also arranging two webinars in November.
Going forward we are further crystallizing how to amplify the core of our product (Rowing Performance for professionals) into the much larger fitness sector where we can help a target group get and keep fit. The focus is now in developing cases of using the Quiske App in weight loss and for staying fit. We are reaching out to personal trainers and fitness experts to develop convincing workout programs for rowing classes and events as well as to help sell systems to fitness clubs. We are developing our ideas for cooperation with indoor rowing machine manufacturers.
We have succeeded in making a number of agreements with passionate local agents and are moving forward with making new ones, One per country – passionate, rooted in rowing, open mind to amplify performance rowing to fitness clubs. Negotiations on going with Germany, China, and Norway. We are also contacting opinion leaders in indoor rowing in social media. We have understood that sales is much easier face to face and in most cases is not easy to sell an entirely new system online without interaction. Human contact and trust are really important when trying to sell a new product. We have adjusted our revenue targets since we believe growth will be slower than earlier expected (still we will double our revenue since last year).