Interview with the Makers Behind the MilestonePod—Tiny, Inexpensive Device to Track the Miles on Your Running Shoes
January 28th, 2013 10:00am EST
If you’re a serious runner, you know you need to change your shoes after about 500 miles. But unless you’re adding up all your runs via Runkeeper or some other app, you have to estimate. (And that can be difficult if you tend to go on a lot of random length runs.)
That’s where the MilestonePod (currently on Indiegogo, looking for funding) comes in.
It’s a tiny, expensive device with a digital display that you put on your shoe to track your miles. Think of it as a pedometer for your running shoes. Once you replace your shoes, wipe the mileage clean and start at 0 miles on your next pair.
In addition, the MilestonePod allows you to input emergency information (blood type, medical history and more) that can be accessed by plugging the MilestonePod into a computer or device via USB.
The MilestonePod is still under 50% of the funding necessary with only a few days to go on their Indiegogo campaign. To learn more, I recently spoke with Jason Kaplan, one of the founders behind the device, over e-mail. Here’s what we discussed.
For those that haven't heard of it, what's the MilestonePod?
The MilestonePod is an inexpensive device that solves two very real problems for runners, walkers and triathletes. First, it attaches to your shoe, and stays there, to continuously track and display the miles run or walked in that shoe. Shoes wear out. When they do, the user is at increased risk of injury and yet there is no easy way to simply tie miles to a specific pair of shoes. The MilestonePod fills this void.
The second problem we solve is that the Pod acts as a digital health tag. The user can load whatever health or emergency information they deem critical to the Pod. The critical feature is that because the Pod is always attached to your shoe to track miles, you always have the Pod with you. There is no need to do anything other than lace up your shoes and go.
How did you guys first come up with the idea?
All three founders are committed runners having completed multiple marathons and Ironman races. We are also a combination of entrepreneurs, technologists and an owner of a triathlon retail store. We all felt the need for this product and knew we could develop something low cost and that we would want to use.
How important is miles ran to deciding when to get a new pair of running shoes? Isn't it also important for the runner to look at the terrain? The weather? And other factors? Or have you found it's just pure miles that matter?
There are indeed many factors one should consider when replacing shoes but the most important is the condition of the shoes. Even with the same pair of shoes, two runners may differ in how long they can use them based on running style, size of the runner and other variables. The MilestonePod is not like the turkey thermometer that pops right at the moment the shoes are done—it is a guide for the runner to use to be more aware of the actual miles on the shoe. A surprising number of runners say they replace shoes when their knees start to hurt—this is too long.
How does the MilestonePod work? Is it just basically a pedometer?
The MilestonePod is more than just a simple pedometer. We use [a] high accuracy sensor/accelerometer to measure the position of the foot around 100 times a second. This measurement combined with an understanding of the motion of walking/running enables us to build a sophisticated but simple algorithm around it to give mileage measurements.
You note that so many runners track their runs with GPS. With that in mind—why do you still see a need for a product like the Milestone Pod?
First, your average GPS watch costs well over $100. Setting aside price, a GPS watch does a great job or tracking my run today. It also does a great job of uploading this information to an app, if the runner uses this feature.
But, if I am using more than one pair of shoes during my training (alternating shoes day to day) then it may not be that easy to tie the miles from any specific run to a pair of shoes. If this feature is available, it still requires some action from the runner or walker. The beauty of having a standalone device with a display on the shoe is the user does not have to do anything other than glance at the display when putting the shoe on taking it off.
This goes back to the fact that we developed this product to solve our own problems. We wanted to limit or eliminate the need for the runner to do anything additional in order to track miles on shoes. Two final notes: GPS watches do not work indoors, while the MilestonePod will, and GPS watches are not digital health tags.
Talk about why the decision to include the medical information in the MilestonePod as well? And do you plan to continue adding additional features like this to feature versions?
It really came down to the fact that this is an easy feature to include that is relatively low cost and yet could be hugely valuable. It also has to do with the fact that while all the founders own a digital tag of some sort, we rarely remember to put it on.
Running or walking with some emergency information on your person is just smart and yet not everyone does it. We like the idea of making it idiot proof to remember, not to mention you can add or change the information any time.
Yes, we do plan on keeping this feature in future versions though we will listen to our customers and respond to what the market says.
Why go with Indiegogo instead of Kickstarter?
Indiegogo encourages projects like the MilestonePod, has a sports category, has several similar projects that have had recent success and generally makes the process easy. We have been very happy with their support.
How are you currently getting the word out about your Indiegogo? You've got only a few days to go, and you're less than 50% of the way there. Are you starting to get nervous you might not hit your goal?
We are working tirelessly to get the word out about the MilestonePod campaign on Indiegogo. We did engage Smack!Media to help us get the word out. They have phenomenal relationships and understand our particular niche very well. We are pushing the message on all of the available social media outlets, using relationships and working with media like you.
Milestone is very focused on [having] a huge last two weeks to get to our goal. We set a goal and intend to meet it. That said: our future is not dependent upon achieving the goal. We view the Indiegogo campaign as one part of our growth strategy and it serves many purposes beyond just hitting the financial targets. Milestone is more than just this Pod—we have plans for products in other sports and intend to be a company you write about for a long time, regardless of how much we raise on Indiegogo.
Anything else you'd like to add?
We appreciate your coverage and encourage all readers to go order their Pods on Indiegogo today.
Photo Credits: Milestone