A chat with the founder of hardware startup Atlas Wearables

We recently interviewed Mike Kasparian, the cofounder of an exciting new hardware startup based in Austin, Texas. Atlas Wearables is building a new technology to help exercise enthusiasts track the many different exercises they perform at home and at the gym. After reaching over 500% of their crowdfunding goal on Indiegogo, the team is now accepting preorders for the device.

Here Kasparian shares the Atlas story as they look to expand the power of the quantified self and disrupt the fitness world, with eyes on the growing medical wearables market.

What inspired you to create Atlas Wearables?

We wanted to create computers to do tedious chores for everybody, so we can all focus instead on the things we love.

How does your first product work?

We apply different techniques similar to those found in Siri and facial recognition technologies, but apply it to the health and fitness industry.

What problem does Atlas Wearables address and how do you solve it?

You wouldn’t drive a car without a speedometer or a fuel gauge. The core of Atlas solves the problem of valuable data analytics to motivate actionable change. The very first problem we are solving at Atlas is removing the sweat-stained logbook from the gym. With the Atlas we can log your exercises in real-time, track reps and organize them into sets. From here, we also extract other relevant information to the fitness niche, such as stability scores, caloric burn, and even form analytics.

When did you start developing Atlas Wearables and when did/will it launch?

Atlas was founded in January 2013 with my preschool buddy, Peter. We are scheduled to launch our product in Winter 2014 after a successful crowdfunding campaign this past February.

Describe how you built your team.

Building the team was, and still is, the most important part of developing and innovating the Atlas technology. We spent a lot of time interviewing and selecting the top talent in each of our disciplines. When we look for talent, not only do we look for smart people, we also stress the importance of company culture and team chemistry.

What makes your startup unique compared to others in the wearable hardware space?

The core technology that we’ve developed is actually our activity classification algorithms. Nobody currently in the market is able to tell the difference between bicep curls, squats, dead-lifts, and even pushups and triangle pushups. We are moving wearables beyond glorified pedometers with the goal of becoming a natural part of your fitness life.

Where are you based and what markets are you targeting?

We’re based out of Austin, Texas and are targeting the health and fitness markets. Specifically, anybody who goes to the gym or works out at home. We expect to be the wearable fitness tracker that people continue to use for years to come. After all, Atlas can continue to learn and even present new exercises, and that’s value add that isn’t being witnessed currently. It’s a tracker that can grow with you.

Besides funding, what is Atlas Wearables looking for from possible partners?

We’re looking for synergistic relationships with fitness partners. Distribution, connections to customers, and more software and data integrations so that everyone can retain their data and visualize it in the ways they want.

What's the next step for Atlas?

We’re focused 100% on our product delivery for this year. Beyond this first product release, we are also looking into many other ways we can apply our technology and data analytics to inertial motion sensing. In particular, we have interests in innovating in the medical and military industries.

Does Atlas have any plans to engage the Armenian tech ecosystem, or to recruit Armenian talent and mentorship?

Absolutely. We’re open and looking to hire a full-stack developer and a firmware engineer. We’re now accepting applications at info@atlaswearables.com.

What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs in the space?

For any venture you want to start, make sure you’re passionate about it. I wanted to work on Atlas purely because it was a fun side project for me. I was working full-time as an electrical engineer at Philips, while working on my Master’s degree. I never expected my side project to turn in to a fully seed-funded venture – and now I’m lucky enough to be rewarded for doing what I love. Love what you do, and great things will happen.