9 Degrees Freedom was founded in February 2012 by a pair of Singaporean researchers with a passion for innovative lifestyle sports technologies. Their first product, the ultimate tennis performance sensor QLIPP™, has recently emerged as a Digital Finalist in the ISPO BRANDNEW 2015. Co-founders Donny Soh and Cen Lee have sat down for an interview and shared about QLIPP’s progress and its prospective future.
1) How did you come up with the idea of QLIPP?
We were doing another project at that time, and we wanted to measure the data from a tennis racket and then put it in a virtual reality environment. We thought about being able to do the converse – measure the data, then use it to detect how good the strokes are. So that is how we thought we can use a sensor device to find out how good the performance is and to improve the performance. The sensor unit is in fact a generic unit which can be applied to different sports, that is why we called it the QLIPP Sports Technology, and the first vertical we are going into is tennis. We expect to go into different verticals like running, baseball etc. as well.
2) Were there any challenges faced during the process of developing QLIPP? What were they?
Hardware was one big challenge because we needed to make the hardware very stable and durable, so that it can be used in the outdoor environment and across very long distances. Our strength lies in data mining, so the problem was analysing the data in real time and making it responsive to the users.
3) How would you compare QLIPP against other sensors of its kind?
I think the biggest difference is the portability aspect, whereby the emphasis is being portable and being able to be applied to different verticals, so we don’t stress on just a particular sport alone, but in fact we try to make the sports sensor as generic as possible. We are also incorporating video analysis, so that it will give users very real feedback. We can also integrate into other devices, so we can accept third party sensor devices, such as heart rate monitors or temperature monitors. This will give QLIPP a more wholesome experience.
4) Congratulations for being a finalist for the ISPO BRANDNEW 2015 competition! How did you feel when you first received this piece of good news?
We are glad that recognition is given to QLIPP after more than a year of R&D. The key thing is that it is not just the award, but moving on, how do we go about launching the product.
5) QLIPP headed to Munich in February for the ISPO Munich Trade Show. Was there anything special that was showcased there?
We held a demo at our booth, where there was a ball that players could hit and try out the device. Whenever the player hit the ball, he would be given feedback on how good or how bad the stroke was – and that was the main attention drawer for the crowd.
6) Are there any exciting news we can expect from QLIPP in the near future?
We are going to ship! Our certifications will be done in June to July, and we plan to grab hold of the summer season in Europe. We are also having a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in June 2015. Next year, we are also probably joining the Sports Licensing & Tailgate Show, the biggest sports licensed products trade show in the US.
7) Moving forward, what will be QLIPP’s future plans?
We will be looking into different verticals. We also hope to open up our API, so we can connect it to different third party collaborators. We hope QLIPP can be a generic sensor that can be used for any application and different sports, and provide more meaningful data as well.