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By Casey Coombs

Reflx Labs developed Boogio smart shoe technology as a prototype for companies developing applications in virtual reality, health, fitness and sports. The smart shoes capture and analyze data about foot impact to understand biomechanics.

What problem are you solving?

WBoogio Reflx Labse’re enabling organizations and companies – with support from third-party vendors like Qi2, Xinova, which is the former Intellectual Venture’s invention development fund, and engineering firm Intelligent Product Solutions – to fast-track the research and development of smart shoe applications. I want to give people the power of data to make decisions, including health decisions. It’s a win-win because there are a lot of early stage companies looking into getting into the wearable space and trying to build applications and software that would work nicely on a smart technology like this. Giving companies developing apps in virtual reality, health, fitness and sports a foundation to start from is really how we’re making this happen.

How do you pay the bills?

By servicing and partnering with startups and mid-sized companies that are looking to accelerate their smart shoe applications. They’re licensing our technology and we’re supporting their efforts to commercialize the technology.

How will you scale?

By supporting different industries through our third-party vendors.

How do you make money?

Through our licensing profit-sharing model. Seattle can be a tough place to raise funds, especially with hardware and this is a capital-intensive endeavor. If we wanted to pick any one particular vertical it would take considerable resources to do that, so the safer bet for us is to be more conservative about it and remain an enabler for third parties right now.

What keeps you up at night?

Many things. The biggest one is where we’re headed with this kind of technology. I I have a son and I want to be an active player in anticipating and shaping the smart shoe marketplace for the next generation. I think a lot about those implications, how we can be better at what we’re doing, how we can partner with the right people and develop and design the technology. It’s about innovating and providing value to people with this technology. I want to see the smart shoe be a thing.


Boogio

  • Location: Seattle
  • Employees: Five founders and partners
  • Funding: $2 million in cash and in-kind services
  • Investors: Mix of angel investors, Seattle product development startup Xinova and Kent-based research and engineering company Qi2.
  • Founders: Jose Torres, Giovanni Nino and Qi2 directors
  • Experience: Torres co-founded Reflx Labs Inc. and Propmarks Inc. and is currently the managing director of Arts One LLC. He was a designer at Microsoft.
  • Web: boogio.com

Feedback Loop

Geoff Harris is a former Microsoft executive and an active angel investor with the Alliance of Angels.

Concept:

Boogio is a wearable technology which licenses a reference platform for smart shoes with applications in virtual reality, health and fitness and sports. The smart shoes capture biometric data which developers can use to create a more immersive experience.

Team:

Boogio developer Reflx Labs was a spinout of Qi2, a prominent hardware incubator. Reflx co-founder Jose Torres has product design consultancy experience with clients such as RealNetworks, Microsoft, Sony and MTV. The other key player in the business is Giovanni Nino, a director at Qi2. The company has also partnered with Intellectual Ventures to share technology innovations.

Opportunity:

Boogio lives at the intersection of two very popular sectors: wearables and virtual reality. Wearables vendors sold 78 million units last year, up 124 percent from the previous year and the trend continues. Virtual reality seems on the precipice of duplicating that explosive growth with companies from Facebook to Microsoft, delivering solutions in the VR and AR spaces. Boogio’s solution allows VR experiences to move from the passive to the active, incorporating biomechanical signals into the VR experience and allowing the user to more fully interact.

Edge:

Boogio’s edge is both in their technology patent portfolio and their approach. Because this is a licensing play, Boogio sidesteps many of the inventory and capital requirements challenges for the typical hardware startup. The partnership with Intellectual Ventures should assist Boogio in defense of their patent position.

Risks:

This is a licensing and IP business and thus as an investor one would want to fully understand the patent portfolio and the relationship and partnership with Intellectual Ventures. In addition, there is the risk that the big players in VR/AR such as Facebook and Microsoft would extend their solutions in a vertically integrated way, adding their own wearable technologies.


Correction/Clarification

An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Boogio as a “wearable technology company,” when in fact it is not a company but rather a product developed by Reflx Labs.

Casey Coombs covers technology and biotechnology for the Puget Sound Business Journal.

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