The second decade of the XXI century gave us the Internet of Things. While smart toasters and “dumb” fridges that wouldn’t allow you to raid them in the middle of the night ( because you programmed it so yourself, trying to save your waistline – real life story) are all very exciting – they are rather peripheral to the great sport of cross country skiing.
Let’s talk about something that is central to it – like technique and performance analyses. Here comes Racefox, your real-time online xc skiing coach.
Racefox, née Wememove, came to the market last year with a promise of bettering performance through using the chest strapped device & online app that test your technique and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Since then Racefox has become quite a name in skiing circles – in the summer, when we all like to train semi-naked, it’s not uncommon to see a skier sporting a recognizable white sensor ( have they made it white on purpose, so it would stick out in the crowd of uniformly black heart rate monitors? )
Curious as we are, the Dailyskier reached out to Racefox and talked to the man who started it all, Claes Kalderén, head of marketing & co-founder. To be clear, the point of conversation was not to understand the technology behind Racefox – those interested could find info aplenty on the company’s website and elsewhere on the Web. Our goal, however, was to get the idea how the project came into being, who are the people behind it – and what new is coming ( or not) to the market
-We see that XC skiing is also being affected by digitalization and we think that we are in a the forefront of this change. We are alone there today and our technology is world class. XC skiing community is not that large in comparison but it’s good to be putting it in the front-line since we love the sport.
– One of the founders, Christer Norström has two grown up sons, both avid XC skiers. It was hard for them to understand if they were progressing. Christer , professor in software and systems engineering & computer science, figured he should be able to measure the sons’ movements. He gaffer taped mobile phones to their chests during a race and looked at the data. He found that the data had some interesting patterns. He started to discuss with other academics in his field and devised a multiple sensor approach that would capture all parts of the movement. His sons looked at the plans and said no way, I will never use this its too complicated. Then Christer read an article about movement and that all full body movements originates in a point in the upper chest. He then concluded that it would be enough with one sensor. Since he was not afraid of large data sets he and the other founders decided that the way to do it, is to acquire the raw data from the sensor and do all calculations based on this. That is Racefox’ core advantage, we have so much data that we can see very very small changes in the movements and establish connections, patterns.
The team consists of six people in Stockholm, Sweden and six people in Cairo, Egypt. The Cairo team is a group of very advanced computer scientists and we have two founders in Cairo. They came into the project when they were working in Stockholm.
Racefox analyzes & advises those who chose/prefers doublepoling. What about freestyle a.k.a skating?
– We did once a hockey app so we know the skating movement but in order to deliver something with real insights we would need to develop that functionality for six months which we do not have at the moment. We have a small base of followers around the Alps but not enough yet to justify the investment.
We are quite focused on classic styles since that is most common in the Nordic countries.
– Our core strengths lies in the real-time analysis of the movement and the personalization of training plans based on race goal, ability and effect of training over time. We now have 30 million strokesand 30,000 training sessions in the database, so we are very sure about the relations between movement and effect. We have presented an accurate measure of Watt when skiing which we will also put into the app so that you can use this to measure your skiing efficiency. We currently have close to 2000 customers in our systems out of which a majority is skiers.
We have also made several hundred individual race analysis’ for our customers that have participated in skiing races. They are really very powerful and give an amateur skier better support than most national level country skiers have.
– Our primary strategy is to work with larger races and create a race app for them where you can choose between all their different races, set a target and generate a training plan for this race that is personalized and adaptive. So, for skiing we have Racefox Vasaloppet for 20 Euros per month. There’s also a basic plan for 10 Euros a month.
For the running app we don’t have a standard/entry level product we only have Racefox Lidingöloppet ( annual cross country running competition in Lidingö, Sweden with about 15,000 participants) . We also have advanced injury reporting in this product that is matched with the movement analysis data.
Our user base is primary in Sweden, Norway and Russia at the moment but through our cooperation with larger races we think that this will grow. We have a little community in Australia, a customer in Vladivostok and quite a few users in Omsk, Russia. There is a professor at the technical University of Omsk that is doing a lot of tests and analysis using Racefox and he has started a fanbase over there.
We launched the running analysis product in late June so we are building traction there at the moment.