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CHALLENGE: THERE’S BUILDING A BETTER MOUSETRAP. AND THEN THERE’S AVOIDING THE SANDTRAP.
Two years ago, Calgary’s Derek Rucki and fellow young entrepreneur Stefan Radeta launched TLink, an ultralightweight GPS golf watch and pedometer that gives golfers precise yardage information for more than 30,000 courses worldwide.
Almost immediately, the pair was ready to tee off on a next-generation version of TLink — one that would
incorporate sensor data, and allow golfers to improve their game on the fly.
With one caveat.
“This was a very important step in the process,” says Rucki, TLink Golf’s CEO and a former top-10 junior golfer in Canada.
“For the original TLink product, we worked with a development team in China, which had its challenges. This time, we wanted to keep it local.”
SOLUTION: RUCKI APPROACHED THE CENTRE FOR INNOVATIVE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS (CIITS) RESEARCH GROUP AT SAIT, ON THE ADVICE OF ONE OF HIS MENTORS.
And, in golf parlance, the CIITS team showed it could drive for show and putt for dough.
Rucki, who’d spent two years in Texas on a college golf scholarship, envisioned the transformation of the
TLink device from a golf-centered pedometer to a virtual golf professor — offering real-time game improvement to the wearer, through 3D swing analytics and feedback.
For a full year, from mid-2015 through mid-2016, the CIITS crew — part of Applied Research and Innovation Services at SAIT — thoroughly evaluated the sensor technologies already commercially available, while at the same time deconstructing the original TLink golf watch.
“We redesigned a lot of the components, some of which cost less, so that the TLink bracelet was more efficient and saw some power savings,” says Stephanie Krause, the project lead and a senior software developer with CIITS.
“And that meant they would be able to spend more money on better sensors. We optimized the product all-around.”
The CIITS team’s concentrated knowledge, says Krause, was the clear advantage for this project — with experience in electronics engineering, Artificial Intelligence (AI) machine learning, user experience design, mechanical testing, algorithms and analytics.
“There are brilliant minds on our team. They’ve worked extensively in industry. Some of them operate their own companies,” she says. “We’ve collected a team of great people who really know their electronics.”
Duffers and slicers everywhere can expect TLink 2.0 to hit the market in 2018.
“We needed high-level testing, validation and clear recommendations,” says Rucki. “They were genuinely
interested in the project, and passionate about their work.
“I think they did a great job.”
Text by Todd Kimberley | Photo by Trudie Lee