Rochester startup rolls out game-changing football tech
A small Rochester technology startup rolled out what it describes as "football's first and only on-field, in-helmet heads up display" to an excited crowd Wednesday night.
Mike Rolih, founder and CEO of GoRout, presented the device called Vue-Up to an enthusiastic crowd in a meeting room behind the Bleu Duck Kitchen in the Conley-Maas building.
"Today is the day we've been working for … that I've been been waiting for for two and a half years," he said. "This is the most revolutionary product ever brought to the football market."
Vue-Up is small device that inserts into any standard football helmet. It contains a high-definition visual display where players can see plays drawn by their coaches. It also features a four-megapixel, instant-on video camera.
"The camera captures everything your player sees," Rolih said. "A coach can see what they see as they see it."
Footage from the cameras is transmitted and stored on GoRout's servers.
The system is voice-controlled and able to learn to better recognize voice commands as a player uses it.
"The more you use your helmet, the smarter it gets," he said.
Like GoRout's first wearable football technology, a wrist-mounted device called the Vue that displays plays, this new product is made from military-grade materials and is designed to be hit repeatedly. It is rechargable and has an eight-hour battery life.
Beyond engineering both the Vue-Up helmet insert and the Vue wrist tablet, GoRout has created the software to run the devices and its own national, on-field network to allow them all to communicate seamlessly.
"We've created the wearable display market," Rolih said. "And every ounce of technology was all designed in Rochester by GoRout engineers."
The plan is to have Vue-Up helmet devices on the market in time for the start of football season next fall. Pricing has not yet been set. Since the product has been kept under wraps until this week, it's unknown how football leagues will react to teams using the in-helmet device in competition. GoRout stresses that all of its products can benefit a team both during practice as well as during a game.
Rolih founded the company in 2014 in the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator in the Minnesota BioBusiness Center under the name Repetix. That business evolved into GoRout, which moved in 2015 to offices at 4 Third St. SW, above the Grand Rounds Brew Pub.
Rolih now has a team of about nine employees on staff. GoRout introduced its on-field tablet Vue last season. A total of 50 teams ranging from high school to college to professional used the Vue on the field for its first year on the market.
GoRout recently raised $1.2 million in financing to help it ramp up and get its products to coaches and players. And Rolih acknowledges that if Vue-Up is successful on the football market, it could be adapted for other uses in the military, emergency service and other areas.
The unveiling of the Vue-Up was livestreamed on the Internet and it attracted 4,700 online viewers.
In Rochester, Wednesday night's crowd listened intently as Rolih presented the Vue-Up as part of Rochester's Global Entrepreneurship Week. Many in the audience run their own startups or aspire to start their own companies.
They erupted in laughter when Rolih paused during his Steve Jobs-like description of the Vue-Up to say, "and boy, we've patented the hell out of this."