Sqord Introduces Technology Solution To Fight Child Obesity
Posted Dec 17 2012 8:00am
As mentioned in the past, sometimes I get press releases emailed to me about great things happening in the health and fitness industry, so I wanted to share this with my readers. Please feel free to send any press releases along using the contact form above.
Sqord is addressing the critical problem of child obesity and sedentary lifestyles in youth by making healthy, active play more fun for kids.
The Durham, NC based company wants to help kids lead healthier, more active lives, by tapping into their interests, namely: having fun, playing games, and using social media.
“Our goal is to get kids off the couch,” said Sqord CEO and co-founder Coleman Greene, “We do that with a proprietary blend of hardware and software that’s one part game platform, one part social media, and one part activity tracker—a wrist-worn device we call the Sqord PowerBand.”
Kids simply put on their Sqord PowerBands (Greene vouches for its kid-proof indestructibility), and go about their daily routines as the PowerBand records duration and intensity of activities via its state-of-the-art 3-axis accelerometer. The system also includes a small SyncStation, where a kid simply taps his PowerBand to send activity data to Sqord Online. It’s there, on Sqord’s engaging and motivating social media website, where activity data translates into points, wins and virtual rewards.
The website allows kids to check out what their friends have been up to, send high fives (the equivalent of a Facebook “like”), and “squawks” (similar to posting on someone’s Facebook wall), and to set challenges to compete in with their friends.
“We’re translating physical activity into the kind of online challenges and competitions that kids are very familiar and comfortable with because of social media,” explained Greene. “Their goals might be to score the most points, win medals and brag to their friends, but ours is to make physical activity more fun for kids so they will want to make it part of their day.”
The company’s concept has generated considerable early interest and attention from several impressive state and national organizations. In June, the company won the $50,000 Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP) Technology Innovation Grand Prize. ASAP is an initiative of ChildObesity180, a cross-sector organization committed to reversing the trend of childhood obesity in one generation. The competition launched in February with a video message from First Lady Michelle Obama encouraging participation.
Since then, Sqord has received an additional $20,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina to continue development of its device and web platform, has piloted its system with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA, and has enlisted schools districts in Colorado, Miami-Dade, and Seattle as paying customers.
After a taste of success in fundraising, Greene, Sqord co-founder Vish Avasarala, and Jeff Wright, Vice President of User Experience and Design, opted for another funding strategy using the new social media-friendly phenomena called crowdfunding. Crowdfunding, websites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter enable companies, causes, projects or individuals to make direct funding pitches to the public. With a simple mouse click, ordinary people can contribute a few dollars to a crowdfunding campaign. The process allows entrepreneurs to offer perks like discounted or limited edition product to early supporters.
Sqord launched its crowdfunding campaign on Dec. 1, and Greene hopes to raise as much as $85,000 by the time it wraps up on Jan. 5. The company will use the revenue to bring the Sqord system to seven new sites and 15,000 new users.
“We want to keep our momentum going, reach a larger audience and scale up our pilot programs,” said Greene. “Whether crowdfunding will be a successful method of bringing in additional revenue remains to be seen, but we figured we had nothing to lose by giving it a try and seeing how many people we could reach with the platform.”
“We hope to reach out to families, organizations that serve youth, and anyone with kids in their lives, and bring them on the bandwagon,” Greene continued, “With just a little support, we have a huge opportunity to make a positive change in kids’ lives, and let them have a lot of fun in the process.”