If one could combine one’s interest, knowledge and skills to develop one’s career or even change the world, not matter how hard it is, it is surely a blessing. It is what many entrepreneurs aspire to.
Platysens is a fresh graduate of HKSTP’s Incu-Tech programme in 2018. Its founder and CEO Wong Cheong-yui is an electronics engineer. He is also an amateur sports lover who takes part in triathlon and cross-harbour swimming races. With the technology advancement in recent years, many outdoor sports lovers would use wearable devices and smartphones to record and analyse their own performances. But for Wong, the design and functions of many of these products could not meet the requirements for training and competition. After due consideration and planning, he decided to take on the challenge of starting up his own business and developing his own device.
Inadequacies of prevailing devices
The most common devices for monitoring personal sports performance data are in the form of watches. Wong thinks such design, while convenient, will force the user to stop or slow down to read the device. This is most inconvenient for swimmers. When worn by summers, such devices are immersed in water most of the time, which weakens the GPS signal reception. This also affects its tracking function. And wearable devices in general can only calculate lap speed based on swimmers’ turns and the length of pool. They cannot detect arm frequency – a vital piece of information for tracking swimming efficiency.
Wong founded Platysens in 2014. Its featured product Marlin can monitor and analyse users’ performance. It informs users about their speed, direction, distance and arm frequency, using bone conduction technology. It is worn on the straps of swimming goggles. The component for signal reception contains a GPS navigation chip and accelerometer for detecting movement data, while the sound component can use voice to inform users of pre-set data.
Marlin is worn on the back of a user’s head and uses voice for data communication, so it does not hinder a swimmer’s speed. In general, the back of a swimmer’s head is above water, so it is better for GPS reception. Besides, data collected by Marlin can be sent to smartphones and cloud platforms for management and analysis. It can effectively enhance training effectiveness and a user’s performance.
Multifunctional detection and analysis
With the abovementioned functions, Marlin can be used in indoor swimming pools and open waters. Wong says that in cross harbour race, Marlin can tell users the right direction using GPS, which helps to shorten the time of completion and save energy. In indoor swimming pools, it may lose the GPS connection, but the algorithms of Platysens can still calculate the lap speed with swimmers’ action. The data analysing tool of Platysens can of course be applied in any environment to analyse arm frequency and distance covered to calculate the efficiency of swimmers’ action. Swimmers’ stroke and technique are thus improved.
Apart from Marlin, Platysens has recently launched another product, Seal, which can measure arm strokes and strength to analyse accurately stroke effectiveness and come up with ways for improvement, such as the imbalance of strength of left and right arms. When used together, Marlin and Seal can provide a more comprehensive swimming training solution.
HKSTP helps develop professional and international market
As a member of Incu-Tech, Platysens has obtained capital and office/laboratory support from HKSTP. Subsequently, Platysens has also taken part in the Leading Enterprises Acceleration Programme (LEAP), which speeds up the growth of start-up businesses and helps them go international. Platysens has entered the international market as a result, and Marlin has won the grand prize in the International Consumer Electronics Show. The United Kingdom has become its biggest market. In Hong Kong, Platysens has reached beyond individual swimmers. For example, the La Salle Swimming Team, which consists of students from La Salle College and La Salle Primary School, is trialling Marlin and Seal to improve the team-members’ performance.
According to Wong, Platysens is adopted for trial by La Salle swimming team, thanks to the help of HKSTP, and the response is good. Platysens is therefore planning to develop the training market. It is also using the data and comment obtained from La Salle Swimming Team to improve and develop its products.
As Wong says, “HKSTP is just like the coach of long distance running who gives out water and towels to athletes. HKSTP also takes up the coaching role to constantly improve the performance of start-ups.” HKSTP will grow with Platysens and apply technology in pursuit of greater achievements.