Ask any novice or advanced golfer what the hardest part of golf is, and you’re more than likely to hear that it’s the art of mastering the swing. With so many types of strokes (and clubs) required for golf from driving to chips to putts, the advanced golfer has often spent many years perfecting his or her game through various lessons, practice at the range, and real-life play on the green.
Into this mix, a team with the Samsung C-Lab (short for Creative Lab) was recently inspired to develop a first-of-its-kind product, the IOFIT smart golf shoe, which utilizing pressure sensor technology embedded in the shoes, provides real-time analysis and feedback on a player’s golf swing through a mobile app.
For its part, there was an article featured Samsung C-Lab last month on Samsung Newsroom, a program designed to support Samsung employees in nurturing their own business ideas towards the ultimate goal of becoming fully fledged businesses. During their participation in C-Lab, Samsung workers can take six months to a year away from their usual day jobs to devote themselves 100% to working on their ideas.
A Mission to Change the Way People Play Sports
Envisioning to change the way people play sports, the IOFIT team, following a period of formation and incubation through C-Lab, launched the world’s first smart shoe product to help golfers quickly and smartly improve their games.
The IOFIT smart golf shoe features a high-quality, comfortable shoe product, which incorporating thin pressure sensors embedded in the outsole, measures a player’s balance and weight shifts in real-time. This data is then transferred via Bluetooth to the user’s smartphone where analysis and feedback is provided through an app on how the player can improve his or her swing. The IOFIT pressure sensor technology is itself particularly cutting-edge, designed to accurately detect any subtle changes in pressure distribution in a matter of milliseconds. The sensors are also waterproof and carefully built to withstand excessive amounts of weight, of up to 330 lbs (150 kg).
Once the data is fed from the shoe to the user’s smartphone, the IOFIT app offers key functions including complete analysis of a player’s swing from pressure distribution to center of pressure (CoP) to left/right and front/back balance in real-time. Another function of the app then interprets this data to provide coaching and personalized feedback to the user. To round out the features, the app also includes an option for players to compete with their friends on who has the better golf swing as well as share their individual swing information.
IOFIT Kickstarter Campaign
Passionate about the unique offering of its product, the IOFIT team provided samples of its smart shoes for various media outlets to trial. The feedback that came back was nothing short of terrific with outlets from CNET to Gizmodo to Fortune to many others praising the effectiveness and fun factor of the shoes.
As the IOFIT project entered its culmination phase and to begin delivering the shoes to people worldwide, the IOFIT team launched a crowdfunding campaign via the well-known Kickstarter platform. A common funding approach for today’s start-ups, crowdfunding involves the raising of funding for a new venture via monetary contributions from a larger number of people, and is typically conducted through internet platforms.
IOFIT’s Kickstarter page, which was launched on August 2, successfully reached its goal of raising USD 30,000 in just 10 hours. As of the date of this post, the funding stands at just over USD 50,000.
The IOFIT team sees golf shoes as just the start and envisions to expand their line of smart shoes into other sports and, even different fields, like healthcare.
Upcoming Innovations from Samsung C-Lab
With C-Lab’s pivotal role supporting successful projects like the IOFIT smart shoe, it’s clear why there’s so much excitement around the program here at Samsung. In the near future, C-Lab has many other exciting projects that we will share more about on Samsung Newsroom.
For instance, one project we’re particularly excited about is SGNL, a smart watch strap that activates a range of functionality to any watch—and also provides a point-of-contact technique for listening on phone calls just by touching your finger to your ear. As the sound can only be heard by the person wearing the device, it is perfect for noise-sensitive environments like conference rooms or an elevator to make calls privately without the risk of being overheard. SGNL has shown so much potential that the group was launched as a new, independent company in 2015.
Another innovation is the smart wearable healthcare belt WELT, which was first showcased at CES 2016. WELT is capable of the recording user’s overall health by measuring the waist size, overeating habits, the number of steps taken and time spent sitting down. It then sends data to a specially designed app for the production of personalized healthcare and weight management plans. Also, its elegant design makes it looks just like a regular leather belt.
As Samsung C-Lab rolls forward, you can expect details on many more exciting innovations like these that Samsung employees are busy at work dreaming about and creating. Please stay tuned!