MBA grads revolutionize winter sports with GPS-enabled ski goggles that began as an idea in entrepreneurship course
Carving down the slopes or ripping through a half-pipe can now be measurably more precise alpine activities, thanks to new high-tech goggles created by a team of former MBA students from the Robert H. Lee Graduate School at the Sauder School of Business.
Their company, Vancouver-based Recon Instruments, has developed the only pair of ski and snowboard goggles in the world that provide users with real-time feedback on speed, latitude/longitude, altitude, vertical distance traveled, total distance traveled, time and temperature.
“Recon Instruments has created the world’s first head-mounted display with GPS and motion sensors, and real-time statistical information onboard,” says Darcy Hughes, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Recon Instruments. “You can see everything from speed, GPS location, jump airtime and more as it happens in real time directly in front of your eyes in full colour and motion.”
Hughes and Recon co-founders Fraser Hall, the company's chairman, Dan Eisenhardt, chief executive officer, and Hamid Abdollahi, chief technology officer, began collaborating on the goggles concept when studying in a unique entrepreneurship class. The course, which brings together business and engineering students to create new technology-based ventures, provided the chance for Hughes, Hall and Eisenhardt, who were all studying toward their MBA degrees, to meet Abdollahi who was on his way to earning a Master of Engineering.
“Sauder was the catalyst. It brought our team together and got us thinking about potential ventures,” says Hall. “It was out of this innovative business-engineering class that Recon was spawned.”
Eisenhardt, who was a semi-professional swimmer, first came up with the idea to develop a simple display that could offer real-time information such as lap times while training in water. But the initial concept was soon adapted to winter sports.
“The technical side developed slowly in the following year and with miniaturization and component costs evolving, we were able to bring the concepts to fruition,” Hughes explains.
After three years in development and adapting the goggles concept to winter sports, the company's Transcend Goggles have hit the slopes with great success. Next year’s advanced releases are selling through some of the world’s largest goggle brands in Europe and the US.
“We are on track to meet and exceed our initial and revised business plans,” says Hughes. “We are the market leader in a space that we have carved out through true innovation. Recon Instruments intends to carry on through other sports and leisure markets. Our ethos is to aid individuals with real-time information in fast-paced environments, bringing hardware and software innovations that enhance performance and experience through proprietary technology.”