Recognized for Wearable Fitness Tracking Device
By Chelsea Hermond (SMG’15), ECE, and Mark Dwortzan
Energized by New Year’s resolutions of spending more time in the gym, more and more of us are using apps and equipment to help track our progress. Jawbone and Nike Fuel Band are among the wearable products on the market designed to do just that, but there’s a growing demand for more customizable fitness tracking devices.
That’s the idea behind Atlas, an Austin, Texas-based company founded by Mike Kasparian (ECE ’12, MS’13) and his preschool friend, Peter Li. The Atlas Wristband tracks and identifies exercises, counts reps and sets, detects heartrate, calculates burned calories and evaluates form. It also displays workouts live and is compatible with many popular fitness apps such as MapMyFitness and Fitocracy.
Now the idea has won accolades from the editors of a major business magazine: Forbes has named the company’s 25-year-old cofounders in its 2015 “30 Under 30: Consumer Tech” listing. Their entry reads: “Atlas cofounders Peter Li and Michael Kasparian both wanted to find a better way to keep track of their workouts so they teamed up to create a wearable with 3D body tracking and advanced data analytics. Atlas launched on Indigogo at the beginning of 2014, and has raised $1.2 million in investment capital.”
“I’m very honored and excited to be a part of such an elite group of young professionals,” said Kasparian, who learned of his inclusion in theForbes list while in China overseeing assembly and production of the company’s first production prototypes. “I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without the experiences and mentors I had at BU, and the team chemistry between myself and Peter.”
To identify a user’s exercises ranging from bicep curls to pushups, Atlas combines motion sensors and advanced machine learning algorithms with an exercise motion database, enabling comparisons between the user’s form and a library of perfect form reference exercises. For each exercise it identifies, the device counts the numbers of reps completed per workout and tracks the user’s progress over time through a mobile and web app.
Li, the company’s CEO, initially came up with the idea while developing a program for people at Johns Hopkins University to lose weight and gain muscle mass. He contacted Kasparian, then designing circuits for defibrillators at Philips Healthcare, to help with the hardware and start exploring a business strategy. Techstars, a startup accelerator in Austin, provided them with office space, funding and mentorship. Kasparian now serves as Atlas’s chief technology officer.
“To reach this level, where he is competing with some of the most innovative companies in this field, speaks volumes about Mike’s vision, ability and the value of the education he has received at BU,” said Adjunct Professor Bakak Kia (ECE), who advised Kasparian during his senior design project, which garnered the top team prize, the P. T. Hsu Memorial Award for Outstanding Senior Design Project, and an individual honor for Kasparian, the Michael F. Ruane Award for Excellence in Senior Capstone Design. For his Master of Science research project, Kasparian designed the hardware platform that would ultimately be used in the Atlas Wristband.
The company’s first batch of production-quality Atlas Wristbands will be delivered to early backers in April 2015, and orders are now being taken for its third batch, which will be shipped this summer.