Every March, the NFL Combine comes around and hundreds of prospective NFL athletes try their very best to run their 40-yard dash time. They head to sports camps and hire coaches to improve their speed and impress NFL coaches.
The problem is that many of these athletes can't afford an expensive laser gate system, which activates an electronic timer when an athlete passes it. Jawku Speed is a new wearable sensor, available on Kickstarter now for $110, that is aimed at helping these folks.
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Jawku Speed is actually part wearable and part phone. You place your phone onto an included tripod at the finish line, with the front-facing camera pointing toward you. When you're ready, you can use one of two activation modes: Movement mode or Audible mode.
Movement mode has you clicking the button on the Jawku Speed, pausing for a moment, and then dashing. The front-facing camera sees when you start your run and calculates your start based on your first movement. It clocks your time when the Jawku Speed passes your phone.
Audible mode will give you three beeps. On the third beep, you run. The catch here is that the third beep always arrives at a slightly different time so that you can't remember the cadence of the beeps. The idea here is to help you with your reaction times, rather than your full 40 time.
The wearable itself is filled with motion sensors, so there's no heart rate or anything like that – this device is purely for trying to measure your speed. This is valuable for wannabe professional athletes trying to break into the pros, where this 40-yard dash time is a critical measurement. Unfortunately, most aspiring athletes don't have the resources to buy fancier, more accurate technology.
"High school athletes, grade school athletes, whoever it may be, they don't have $2,500 to $15,000 to buy an accurate laser gate system," John Wells, CEO and founder of Jawku, tells Wareable. "What's the thing they have or their coach has? They have a stopwatch. And when an athlete is out there and training their high school coach may be telling them they're running a 4.4 [second 40-yard dash] but when they go run with the laser gate system they're probably not breaking 4.8 seconds and that's a real reality check for them."
Jawku is currently being used by both athletes and trainers at the NFL Combine, including the trainer of John Ross, who broke the record for the 40-yard dash at last year's NFL Combine with 4.22 seconds.
Is Tom Brady or Joe Montana the greatest quarterback of all time? It's a question we can debate for hours. One thing we do know: Jawku already has the support of professionals who are in need of tools to help them get ahead in a competitive industry.
That's an endorsement that's hard to fault, and the company's ultimate goal is to replace the laser gate systems it says are too expensive (it also claims that Jawku Speed is just as accurate as those systems).
As for the actual product, Wells says any Kickstarter money would go to manufacturers to help mass product the Jawku Speed, and points out that the device is already in the hands of some athletes. "We're not a fake product, we're real. The accuracy is real and these [trainers and athletes] are getting behind it."
At $200 MSRP, it's hard not to give Jawku a go if you're an aspiring NFL star who wants to put in extra work on your own to get your 40 time up. This will allow you to train by yourself, after all, rather than relying on a friend or coach any time you want to practise.