Nebraska Global has launched its fifth software company, EliteForm, which is producing programs for recording, coaching and evaluating strength training. Prototypes now are being used at the University of Nebraska's athletic department.
Nebraska Global is the Lincoln investment fund created to finance local software startups.
The founders of this one are three young software engineers and managers who went to school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and started their careers at Don't Panic Labs, Nebraska Global's original software company and the mothership of its spinoffs.
Brian Zimmer, general manager, is a native of Bellwood. Engineer Ben Rush is a Lincoln native and Nate Lowry is from Cairo. All three went to UNL. Zimmer and Lowry graduated from the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management. Raikes, former Microsoft executive, now is chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
EliteForm collaborated with the University of Nebraska Athletic Department in the development of StrengthPlanner and PowerTracker. UNL is the first customer for the system and is using a prototype system in the Ndamukong Suh Strength Complex and the Hawks Championship Center.
Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne lent his support: "Working with EliteForm allows the Huskers to utilize leading-edge technology in strength and conditioning," he said in a news release. "We are very pleased to be involved with the innovative people at EliteForm."
The three used new photographic hardware, the kind Microsoft uses in its Kinect platform, and wrote processes to go with the potential for applications in strength training.
Microsoft Kinect is a device made by Microsoft to let a person play games on the Microsoft Xbox game console without needing a controller.
"We use the same camera technology that the Kinect uses in our solution," Zimmer said in an email. "Seeing the Kinect change gaming made us wonder if we could use the technology to make a difference in another industry."
They and the coaches at NU saw the opportunity for their program to record details of an athlete's workouts in data and video, which could allow the coach more freedom to evaluate the results without being there to witness the workout. The program also allows real-time feedback.
Zimmer, Rush and Lowry credited the rich collegial atmosphere and the startup resources at Nebraska Global, which operates from 151 N. Eighth St. in the Lincoln Haymarket.
Their patents are pending. Others tried and failed. "If this were an easy problem to solve, you'd see a lot of companies doing it, and they're not," Lowry said.
The resources at Nebraska Global allowed them to move faster, make fewer mistakes and get access to people in the sports industry that otherwise would have been out of reach, according to Zimmer.
The company said it expects StrengthPlanner and PowerTracker to be used together as a training and management solution for all levels of organized athletics, but there also may be medical applications that have nothing to do with sports, the partners said. "It's got benefits all over the place," Rush said.
Steve Kiene, managing principal at Nebraska Global, said in a news release that Eliteform's founders have managed to develop "some incredibly leading-edge technology" and make it a large market opportunity. "The solutions they have developed are simple, elegant and cost-effective," he said.