While Foxconn may be best known as the manufacturing muscle behind blockbuster products like the iPhone, the Taiwanese company is teaming up with a French company to focus on the next wave of smart consumer devices.
Paris-based PIQ announced today that it had raised $5.5 million in a round of funding led by Foxconn. PIQ has designed a platform of sensors and data analytics that focus on sports equipment and performance.
PIQ was founded 18 months ago by Cédric Mangaud, a well-known French entrepreneur who sold his last company to HTC and spent several years as an executive at the company before striking out to form his latest venture.
In an interview, Mangaud said he’s convinced that the convergence of a host of tech trends is going to create an even bigger explosion in smart devices than most people realize.
“It’s like where the smartphone was 10 years ago,” Mangaud said. “We’re at the crossing point of the computing power and the connectivity and networks.”
PIQ has designed a kit of wearable sensors that it then partners with sports equipment manufacturers to sell. Rather than embedding the devices directly in something like a tennis racquet, the sensors are worn on a player’s wrist. The same sensor can also be attached to a ski boot so that the consumer doesn’t have to buy a new sensor for each sport.
The company said it can measure up to 11 million data points in one hour. It then uses a data analysis platform it’s created to analyze that information for players.
Foxconn has exhibited a growing appetite for backing the companies it believes will catalyze the development and adoption of more gadgets. Most notably, back in 2012, it bought a big stake in GoPro.
In 2010, Mangaud sold his last company, mobile software developer Abaxia, to HTC for $13 million. Mangaud remained at HTC for more than three years, where he ran the Value Added Services group — and where he developed a relationship with Foxconn.
Until now, PIQ has been self-funded with a small amount of angel investment. This first official round of funding also includes money from Ginko Ventures, Orkos Capital, and Swisscom.
Mangaud says the company will announce its first three sports equipment partnerships later this year, and plans to open offices in San Francisco and Florida.
“We have this mindset of being international,” he said. “We don’t want to do something only for France or only for Europe. The investment round is reflecting that. I think Foxconn understands the ambition behind our product.”
Here’s a bit more detail from a PIQ video: