Amidst the global craze in fitness trackers like Fitbit and the Apple Watch, Hong Kong tech startup Platysens is leveraging HK’s proximity to Shenzhen to fill a gap in the market: dedicated swim trackers.
By 2022, the global smart wearables market is set to become a USD 27 billion dollar market according to Forbes. Favourites such as Fitbit, launched in 2017, the Bellabeat Leaf, targeted at women, and the Apple Watch, a hybrid smartwatch that doubles as a fitness tracker, have taken the world by storm – and Platysen’s Marlin swim tracker is making a play to be the latest must-have on the list. Presenting fitness junkies with a user-centric interface that’s seamless and intuitive to use, Platysens wants to help swimmers in 40+ countries improve their lap times with real-time feedback and GPS navigation features. Cheong-Yui Wong, CEO and founder of the Hong Kong tech firm, talked through his thinking with Hive Life.
In the last few years, health trackers have popped up across the world, encompassing everything from dedicated step counter apps and lightweight smart heart monitors to fashion-forward silver leaf trackers that double as jewellery. Tech giants such as Apple, Xiaomi and Samsung have diversified into the fitness wearable market, recognising the potential IoT market that awaits now that 5G networks are just around the corner. “When it comes to running, the wearables market is very mature,” Cheung-Yui explains. “Even people who are not so serious about sports might have a step counter. But, water wearables are always left behind. So I think there’s still room for the market to grow.”
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Targeting serious amateurs who are passionate about training on the side, Platysens caters to a performance-focused crowd, providing swimmers with real-time feedback through bone conduction headphones that convey crisp and clear audio – even underwater – by conducting sound through the bones in your skull straight to your inner ear. “If you’ve trained for swimming before, you’ll know it’s impossible to look at your watch while you’re swimming, even though it can count your laps and measure your lap time,” Cheung-Yui elaborates. “Our product, the Marlin, solves this problem by talking directly to the user via bone conduction technology, providing them with data as they swim.” For swimmers in open water, the Marlin also includes a GPS function to help with navigation as well as app connectivity for easier access to data on mobile devices.
As a Hong Kong-based tech startup, Platysens has the advantage of proximity to Shenzhen, allowing them to tap into one of the world’s biggest hardware production hubs spread across the broader Guangdong province. “Because we’re so close, we can source components or make PCB prototypes of electronic products rather easily and cheaply,” Cheung-Yui shares. The firm has also benefited from Hong Kong’s Science Park incubator programmes, government-backed initiatives that offer local startups funding support, networking access to industry experts, and business strategy advice.
Going forward, Cheung-Yui hopes to extend their product line to help athletes improve in paddle sports such as rowing, canoeing, kayaking and dragon boating. “We think a lot of sports actually share the same requirement and we want to apply the same technology to them,” he explains. “Having real-time feedback is invaluable to a wide range of athletes who might not be able to read a watch easily.” Consumers can also look forward to entertainment features such as music and walkie-talkie functions for coaching purposes.