My Trip of a Lifetime Helped Shape Revolutionary PE Tech
After a year in the making, IHT and adidas will launch their next generation technology at the SHAPE National Convention in MN on April 5th. Doug Hallberg, the 2015 New York Middle School Teacher of the Year from the Mohonasen School District shared with us what it was like to play a BIG role in helping our two companies rethink and reinvent how to create the perfect wearable for PE and education.
Doug Hallberg’s perspective:
IHT and adidas. How a Great Partnership Began to Take Shape.
When adidas and IHT announced their partnership in January, 2015 it kicked off the exploration of how these two technology-forward companies could leverage each other’s strengths to reinvent digital learning in physical education. Their goal: to create an innovative wearable device that, coupled with IHT’s “Spirit System” software would empower personalized learning in young people, while collecting powerful, meaningful data from the individual to nationwide levels, daily-to-yearly from K-12.
One year later, I’m excited to announce that this next generation technology will be unveiled at the SHAPE America National convention in MN on April 5th. I’m honored to be part of this momentous unveiling. I’ll be leading the launch presentation Thursday April 7th at 4:30pm in the Convention Center.
So just how did they go about trying to create the perfect wearable for PE and for young people?
Tapping into the expertise of administrators, students, parents, and educators, IHT and adidas wanted to get into the minds and hearts of what our profession, schools and kids really needed.
And that gave me the opportunity of a lifetime: a trip to the adidas world headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany to meet in person with the team of engineers.
I was blown away by the beauty and size of the campus. I said “WOW” and “AMAZING” several hundred times. Walking in with Kim Scheffler we were greeted by a statue of Adolf “Adi” Dassler, who founded adidas in 1925. For 90+ years adidas has led sports innovation focused on elite professionals and consumers. With their attention turned to provide that same innovation to education, I was tasked with trying to help them understand what quality PE in America looked like.
We Integrated a Purpose-Filled Philosophy.
My job was to explain to them why it’s so important to build the right product and have the engineers participate in a physical education class so they’d know what it feels like. At first this seemed like a daunting task. I was concerned I’d have a difficult time relating to everyone. I remembered a conversation with Jen Ohlson, President of IHT, who said “Just be yourself Doug. Help them understand how much you love what you do, and how much you love your students. Express to them why you do what you do and they’ll get it.”
The entire team was fantastic. Each engineer made me feel so welcome. I got an understanding of their philosophy and we discussed American Physical Education’s strengths and weaknesses. I described how IHT’s heart rate technology allows me to help my students “feel seen and matter”, just like they all made me feel when I arrived. I demonstrated how I use the Spirit System to connect with each student, despite large class sizes and how I automate Fitnessgram testing.
The Experience of Quality PE in a World Class PE Facility.
Adidas’ ultra-modern fitness facilities rival any I have ever seen. Housing every exercise machine conceivable, the fun began! Since the next generation devices would work perfectly with IHT’s software, we had everyone put on IHT’s current chest-based Spirit heart rate monitor and “tap in”. I got the music going and the engineers moved through each activity with energy and enthusiasm. We continually checked our achievement and talked about how we can have conversations with kids based on what we saw in real time. I was amazed at the intensity.
We ended with “Rock, Paper, Scissors”, which I’ll do on Thursday April 7th during the presentation launch at SHAPE. Competitiveness went off the chart! At SHAPE in 2 weeks, IHT and adidas will be giving away cool apparel, 4 adidas Smart Balls AND a set of the new devices so I am sure it will be even more competitive for those who attend. Once you see the new technology in person, you’ll want every opportunities to get a set of these amazing devices!
We Analyzed Every Aspect of the Design and Construction.
After regrouping to debrief, the insight the workout sparked was incredible. The team fully understood what the “feeling” of true Physical Education was and what we needed. We talked about how students are not “short adults” and what may seem simple to a 35 year old engineer may not be to a 12 year old. Humanizing the data was a key part of the conversation and we focused on how “statistical outliers” in data are actually someone’s child and they needed to be considered in all aspects of the conversation. We discussed how every minute saved adds up. We went back and forth on every aspect of the new device from indoor and outdoor use, simplicity, durability, battery life and fit. The discussion went on for the rest of the evening.
We Created Technology For Our Future.
As the new device launches in 2 weeks and I reflect on my unbelievable opportunity, I’m so proud this next generation technology will impact young people across America, including my own children. I can’t thank IHT and adidas enough for making the commitment to listen to our profession and for committing to enhance the efforts of PE teachers and education in so many ways.
If you’re at SHAPE, stop by the IHT-adidas booth (#1013) to see the new device in person and attend their presentations. Also, check the IHT website on April 5th to see the new device and all its capabilities. If you’re like me and can’t wait to get your own set, contact IHT today for more information.
After listening and building this past year, IHT and adidas are about debut the technology physical education has been waiting for!