Sippin’ on Science

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How a groundbreaking mobile app emerged from dehydration, research and the right development team

Mobile applications, by definition, are meant to function on the go (even if the “go” is simply an afternoon of couch surfing).

For entrepreneur Ed Jaeger, the mobile app he needed literally had to function on the go — in race cars, at high speeds, across tracks and trails, over hills and dunes, and other extreme terrain.

FluidLogic, developed and owned by El Segundo-based Rainmaker Solutions, offers an in-race fluid delivery system for race car drivers, including off-road teams. FluidLogic’s equipment integrates with driver vehicles and helmets. The concept was born after Ed, a motorsport and off-road racing enthusiast, became severely dehydrated during a 1000-mile race on the Baja Peninsula. 

That system required a mechanism to control it from miles away and without any interference to the driver — in short, an app that would provide the ability to track fluid delivery systems by vehicle, alert drivers when they need to drink fluids, and regulate the flow of liquid, among other functions.

Ed turned to Wonderful to unite its knowledge, experience, and creativity with FluidLogic’s ongoing research, equipment development, market feedback, and in-house engineering and design to fashion a lean, sleek, high-performance app that is the first of its kind. 

A client’s vision for its product should inspire the mobile app

After his experience with severe dehydration, Ed began researching the subject, especially as it related to extreme sports. Ed found there were few, if any, hydration and recovery tools on the market for the environment of extreme sports, including motorsports. He wanted to change that.

When Ed began building from scratch a hydration system specifically for motorsports, he created what he called his “squawk list”: Can the system communicate with a smartphone? Is it self-controlled? Can it make adjustments on the fly?

Whenever ideas emerged from the squawk list, or Ed’s racing background, on how the hydration system should look or work, he logged the ideas so he could later provide them to the equipment and mobile app design teams.

The team at Wonderful drew on these “what-ifs,” notes, outlines and brainstorm sketches, understanding from long experience that such materials provide an essential foundation for the efficient and cost-effective creation of a high-value mobile app (no matter the industry.) These materials help the vision become reality.

Taking the product to the streets (and the races) 

Ed wasted no time introducing early versions of the FluidLogic hydration system to potential users. They tested the product during training sessions and events. Afterward, Ed surveyed the racers on how the product performed with respect to ease of use, hydration and recovery. 

This early testing achieved three things important to any product under development:

  • Provided valuable feedback from potential customers on how the product can best suit the environment in which it will be used; 
  • Created curiosity and excitement among the target audience, opening their minds to product possibilities and benefits; and
  • Developed a group of ambassadors to help the product gain traction. 

In short, Ed built valuable buzz and relationships around the product prior to its release. Like the squawk list ideas, the Wonderful team harnessed these product insights as it planned the mobile app that would digitally anchor the FluidLogic suite of hydration systems.

Often, less is more. Or, distilling the mobile app to essentials

As the creation of the FluidLogic mobile app began, the Wonderful team had versions of the FluidLogic hydration system, understood its target audience, and had practical on-the-ground performance reports. Put simply, the team knew how the system worked and who would use it.

But then the defining challenge for the mobile app arose: How would the app successfully interface with the hydration hardware when racers could not engage at length with the app (via smartphone) while also safely driving or executing sudden maneuvers? 

A large part of the answer involved ruthless editing by the Wonderful team, an unforgiving distilling down to what the app absolutely needed to do. Subsequent app development proceeded from this distillation, with app testing leading to further refinements, like eliminating the expensive syncing of data across devices.

Collaboration between the FluidLogic team (the hardware experts) and the Wonderful team (the software experts) also significantly contributed to the success of the mobile app, not least because the project could be divided into manageable tasks assigned to each group.

Beyond the mobile app itself, the collaboration also yielded opportunities for ongoing joint projects — specifically, a host of possibilities for the evolution of the FluidLogic system. These include uses for the data collected by the app, expanding the app to wearable devices like the Apple watch, and producing versions of the FluidLogic system for the military, non-motorized athletes and office professionals.

The proof of our success is found on the track. FluidLogic has enjoyed overwhelming enthusiasm from its users, earned press coverage from NBC Sports and Racer.com, and fueled recent podium finishes in the Las Vegas to Reno off-road race, the Baja 1000 and the Mint 400. 

As the French philosopher of speed Paul Virilio said, “Speed now illuminates reality.” Especially with the right mobile app.

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