This year’s Microsoft Gerri Sinclair Award for Innovation recipients are Martin Schüller, Rachel Teo and AC Chen, for their mobile app Gravatron, a fitness-tracking app for extreme sports.
The students recognized a gap in the marketplace: while there are a lot of fitness tracking apps for leisure sports, such as running or walking, there aren’t any apps available for tracking extreme sports.
Gravatron: Tracking and Data Collection for Extreme Sports
By recording GPS and accelerometer data, Gravatron tracks stats like speed, elevation, airtime, jumps and crashes. There’s also a game component where users can use the app through their headphones to create an immersive, game-like experience to their sport.
The App, currently in beta, launches at the end of March and already has angel investment. You can try it out by signing up for an invite at Gravatron.com.
In addition to the tracking and game elements, Gravatron also collects valuable data about extreme sports. This data can then be used to make decisions about ways to improve the sport. For example, a facility can use the data to identify where jumps need to be higher or where more safety measures need to be put in place. Chuck Hamilton, the faculty supervisor for the project, says “an app is only as good as what happens the background. The long-term value is how brands can use the information from the app to know about their customers."
Master of Digital Media Venture Internships
The students, who are graduating in April, developed the app in their last project course as part of a “pitched project.” MDM students can pitch digital media product ideas to the faculty to work on in their final term before their internship. Andreas Mohrhard, a visiting student from Germany, also worked on the pitch project but couldn't take part in the award because he wasn't an official student at CDM.
After successfully developing a product, students can choose to do a “venture internship” where they develop a startup company and the school provides the space, mentorship and technical support. Martin Schueller and Rachel Teo chose to continue to build the company. Andreas Mohrhard went back to Germany (where he's still part of the project and supervises the technical side of things from Germany) and AC Chen chose the more common internship route to gain more experience by working for a digital media company.
When asked why Schüller and Teo choose a venture internship, Schüller explained that it was because the internship period “is the right time to fail.” The incubator model that the MDM program creates is a chance that they won’t get again and they wanted to take advantage of the immense learning opportunity.
As Hamilton points out, the model is "fail quickly and often."
Find out more about MDM internship opportunities.
About the Gerri Sinclair Award for Innovation in Digital Media
The Gerri Sinclair Award for Innovation in Digital Media, valued at $2,000, is granted annually to a graduating student or team of students of the Master of Digital Media Program (MDM) for creating a digital media product, process or innovation that has great potential.
The award was established at Simon Fraser University in 2010 by Microsoft Corporation with a generous endowment of $50,000 to recognize Gerri Sinclair’s innovative approach to digital media education in her role as Founding Director of the Master of Digital Media Program.
Students are nominated by faculty members and the recipients are selected by a committee chaired by the Director of the MDM program.