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Start Your Business Success Stories

Wearable Tech Company Brings Heads-Up Display to Athletes

Entrepreneur: Dan Eisenhardt
Business name: Recon Instruments
Years in business: 6
Website address: http://www.reconinstruments.com

While still earning his MBA, entrepreneur Dan Eisenhardt came up with a brilliant idea: a microcomputer designed for sports that delivers activity-specific data to the user. In January 2008, Eisenhardt and three of his classmates founded Recon Instruments and immediately began working on a pair of smart goggles that would provide real-time data on speed, vertical descent and distance.

With the introduction of its SNOW2 ski goggles, Recon Instruments became the first provider of consumer heads-up display (HUD) technology. HUD, which was initially developed for transportation, provides users with hands-free contextual information on performance, navigation and communication. The info arrives direct to the eye, in real-time. The company's technology platforms integrate smart glass displays with Recon's microcomputer and sensor suite, built into alpine goggles and sunglasses.

Eisenhardt shared Recon's journey into the wearable tech market, and discussed how the company took advantage of emerging mobile and smart technologies to further its vision. [How Wearable Tech Is Enhancing Our Lives (And Careers)]

Dan Eisenhardt, co-founder, president and CEO of Recon Instruments Credit: ReconInstruments.com

Business News Daily: What problem were you hoping to solve when you started your business?

Dan Eisenhardt: I was a competitive swimmer growing up in Denmark and swam at the university level in the United States. One of the big problems in swimming is that you are totally cut off from any information, save for the pace clock that you can glance at every 50 meters or so by the side of the pool. Swimmers have virtually no data with which to manage their workouts and races. It was with this problem in mind that I first got the idea for a swim goggle HUD.

The idea was for a HUD that would provide in-activity data readouts, direct to the athlete. There were challenges associated with executing the swim goggle HUD (form factor constraints, waterproofing challenges, cost), so my co-founders and I turned our sights to the snow sports market and built the first consumer heads-up display for skiing and snowboarding. The "inaccessibility of information" problem is nearly as acute for skiers and snowboarders as it is for swimmers, so this made perfect sense.

BND: Could your business have existed 20 years ago?

D.E.: In theory, yes, our business could have existed 20 years ago. Historically, we have seen HUD solutions used by fighter pilots. And in the '90s, companies such as IBM introduced smart glass prototypes, too. So the concept is not a new one. However, previous HUD solutions were not produced in volume, were extremely expensive and were not engineered with consumer markets in mind. Recon designs and engineers our smart eyewear for specific use cases where the right information delivered in the right moment can truly enhance performance and user experience. And, of course, widespread advancements in the miniaturization of sensors and components, plus sharp increase in consumer demand for real-time information are important drivers that didn't exist 20 years ago.

BND: What technology has been the greatest help to your business?

D.E.: Recon has benefited most notably from the emergence and scale of mobile and smartphone technology. The entire suite of capabilities driven by the smartphone industry has made possible the miniaturization of sensors, huge leaps forward in CPU processing speed, dramatic improvements in battery performance and advances in measurement accuracy of GPS, to name just a few benefits. The scale of demand for smartphones has driven tremendous innovation in all these areas, with resulting improvements in performance and a reduction in costs. Much of the technology that has been developed specifically for the smartphone industry has been redeployed by Recon in highly innovative ways.

BND: What technology can't you live without?

D.E.: The technology that I cannot live without is a simple question to answer: my smartphone. Twenty-four/seven global connectivity is a must for entrepreneurs building a business, and Recon is no exception.

BND: If you could hire one extra employee right now, what would you have that person do?

D.E.:I would hire a software developer for our HUD and mobile apps. We can always use an extra hand to make sure we wow the customer with a compelling user experience. With that said, we are very lucky to have such a talented team of high-caliber individuals who contribute to the growth of Recon Instruments beyond expectations.

BND: What technology do you wish existed that doesn't?

D.E.: I wish that the technology for teleportation existed. We are still too limited by the physical movement of people and goods.

BND:What app are you relying on most right now?

D.E.: Flipboard. I am getting addicted to news with this fantastic user interface.

BND: What's the most valuable non-tech skill an entrepreneur needs?

D.E.: An entrepreneur needs salesmanship. Without it, you can't convince and influence people to follow your vision.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. Nicole served as the site's managing editor until January 2018, and briefly ran Business.com's copy and production team. Follow her on Twitter.