Active Mind Technology is seeking to remake the game of golf with Game Golf, which measures a golfer’s stats and makes them available for you to analyze and share with your friends. It is one more example of how technology can provide us with way too much information about ourselves as well as how far golf has to go arrive in the 21st century.
The wearable product tracks the location of your shots, the distance the ball traveled, and which club you used. Then it syncs that data to the cloud, and you can look at the results on your smartphone and then share them with your friends. The device is another example of the craze for the “quantified self,” a movement that advocates self-knowledge through numbers.
“Golf is a category that needs to be shaken up,” said John McGuire, the chief executive of Active Mind Technology, in an interview with VentureBeat. “It needs something new.”
There is plenty of sensor technology being applied to analyzing golf swings and helping golfers — that’s nothing new. But this device has a lot going for it. The product was designed by Yves Béhar, the creator of cool tech gear like the Jambox wireless speaker and the upcoming Ouya game console. It’s also being promoted and backed by pro golfers Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood.
Tapping crowdfunding, Game Golf is raising up to $125,000 for the project over the next 30 days on Indiegogo. Game Golf uses accelerometers, gyroscopes, global navigation system (GPS), and near-field communications to track everything in a seamless fashion. It does not, however, measure the velocity of your swing and how good it is.
Perhaps the most important thing it tells you is the distance that you hit the ball with each club — a piece of data that most golfers never know with any precision, said John McGuire, chief executive and founder of Active Mind Technology, the company that makes the Game Golf device, in an interview with VentureBeat.
“We are doing what Nike FuelBand does for running,” McGuire said. “We want to change the sporting experience for amateur players.”
The company plans to launch the product in this summer. You can preorder it now.
“Game Golf not only gives everyone access to crucial data to dramatically improve your golf game and handicap, but it also makes playing more motivating, rewarding, social, and fun,” said McDowell, an investor and winner of the 2010 U.S. Open. “The product is extremely intuitive, doesn’t disrupt your game and is essential for any golfer looking to understand their game better, knock down their handicap, give themselves a competitive edge and compete with their friends and family across the globe.”
McDowell and Westwood have worn the devices in tournaments and are offering feedback to Active Mind Technology.
Béhar’s company, Fuseproject, designed the device and its different parts to be wearable. You can attach the main device to your belt, and then you screw the small red plugs into the top of your club grips. Those red plugs are NFC-enabled, so when you put them near the main device, it records which club you are using. Then it figures out how far you hit the ball as you pull out the next club to line up your next shot.
The device can upload the data via a universal serial bus (USB) to your computer. Or it can load the data via a wireless Bluetooth connection. It syncs the data to the cloud. On the iPhone, the app tracks, analyzes, and shares the data. Beyond shot distance, the app tells you your percentage of balls hit in the fairway, the greens you hit in regulation, and your putting performance.
The social part of the app is interesting. McDowell said that he can use the technology to share his best strokes with followers on Twitter and Facebook. A player can also participate in contests such as the “longest drive” on a hole. If you follow a friend, you’ll find out as soon as the player finished a round and what they scored. Friends can compete against each other long distance.
“The design of the Game Golf app and product has been closely integrated: a beautiful and dynamic presentation of play data, easy and fun ways to share, nondisruptive hardware and experience,” said Béhar, who is an investor in Active Mind Technology and is CEO of Fuseproject. “The design and user interface is crafted to deliver a 21st century experience of the game.”
The device can track two full rounds of tracking on one battery charge. Over time, Active Mind Technology plans to use the technology to measure and “gamify” other sports, McGuire said. Other sports that could benefit from the technology include soccer, cycling, swimming, and biking.
McGuire founded the company in 2010 when he moved from Ireland to San Francisco. The company has 20 employees, including some at a development center in Galway, Ireland. In addition to Behar and McDowell, investors include Chamath Paliphaitya, Jerry Yang, Ed Colligan, Hosain Rahman, Seagate Technology, ACT Ventures, Enterprise Equity, Cross-link Partners, Moroda Ventures, and 11-time world surf champion Kelly Slater.
McGuire has a background in software and behavioral technology as it applies to professional athletes. His aim is to help everyone improve their results by changing behavior. McGuire said his company has raised a seed round already and is in the midst of raising more money.