Using technology he invented in his dorm room, a Cornell alumnus is helping athletes say goodbye to stopwatches.
John Wells ’15, a former place-kicker for the Cornell football team, created the JAWKU technology to “liberate athletes.” Starting in April, Wells will be able to achieve this goal by selling a unique athletic training wristband, JAWKU Speed, which can be used together with an iPhone app to measure users’ running speed.
Once connected to an iPhone, users can select on the app a preset running drill or a custom drill. JAWKU Speed uses the iPhone front camera in order to measure when users cross a finish line.
“I knew there was a need in the marketplace because this was a product that I needed as an athlete,” Wells told The Sun. “There was a serious lack of access to a tool that could track speed, agility and reaction time accurately, especially when my coach wasn’t available.”
During his time at Cornell, Wells enrolled in an independent study project with Prof. Pedro Perez, applied economics and management, and worked with him to bring the JAWKU idea to fruition.
Perez recalled that Wells was intensely focused on working on a product that would help his fellow athletes.
“I remember John being deeply concerned about how to really help athletes and people workout best,” Perez said. “It wasn’t about timing … it was about how do I help people have the best ever workout? How do I help people improve their performance through their workout routine?”
After working with Perez to fortify his idea, Wells was joined by a professional engineering team to conduct years of testing.
“To date, JAWKU devices have been tested over 10,000 times against everything from a basic stopwatch to professional timing systems,” Wells said. “Originally, it was just me. When we needed more information, we reached out to everyone we knew. The device has been tested by track and field athletes, NFL athletes, college athletes, and runners. The result is a tool that is not only incredibly accurate but easy and fun to use.”
According to Wells, accuracy and accountability are two of the company’s highest priorities.
“Right now we are focused on the JAWKU Speed, but we see the future as fairly limitless,” Wells said. “However, accuracy is, and will remain, the number one focus for us as we look to expand our offering.”
In the future, Wells hopes to expand JAWKU to an all-encompassing athletic training device with functions that also serve other types of exercise like weight training.
For Perez, who is “very proud” and “very impressed” by Wells’s accomplishments, the story of JAWKU is a reflection of not only the values of entrepreneurship, but a Cornell education.
“I think this is an example of how entrepreneurial education at Cornell can help a student who has a genuine interest. In the case of John, he had an interest in how to improve the results of working out,” Perez said. “The best ideas happen when you are scratching your own head.”