Nov. 13, 2019 9:06 am

Johns Hopkins grad’s smart tape measure offers a new way to track body shape

Before PIE's wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, founder Soohong Park heard a lot of, "Do people really want innovation in measuring?" Here's how the Columbia-distributed tech works.

When monitoring your health and fitness, it can be difficult to consistently and accurately keep track of weight and body shape. That’s why Bagel Labs founder and CEO Soohong Park created PIE.

PIE is a flexible, digital-enabled tape measure that helps track body shape and size by storing and analyzing data points on critical body parts. The product, developed by Bagel Labs, includes an app which runs on iOS and Android and is Bluetooth compatible. iOS users can integrate size measurements into the Apple Health app as well.

“Units are used in our daily lives to describe the condition of any object,” Park said. “We sometimes say something is cold or hot, small or big, short or long, light or heavy. There have been innovations in measuring and utilizing these base units, but when it comes to measuring size, we still use a tape measure that has been more than a century old. I thought innovating the way we measure one of the base units will eventually change our lifestyles and will change relevant industries accordingly.”

This isn’t Soohong Park’s first crack at this industry, though.

The South Korea native graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins University before earning a Ph.D from the University of Cambridge in 2012 and joining Samsung as a senior research engineer for three years.

Park’s experiences in school and the professional world inspired him to return to his home country, where he founded Bagel Labs. He launched Bagel, his first smart tape product, in 2016 — and the product was a huge hit, selling over 28,000 units in more than 100 countries, according to Park.

“I used tape measures a lot during my school years and my time at Samsung, since I studied mechanical engineering, and I had to manufacture lots of experimental setups and instruments,” Park said.

But creating that first product was a difficult task.

The PIE app. (Screenshot)

“Developing a smart tape measure for the first time in the world was not easy at all,” Park said. “When we first came up with this idea, there was not enough library to refer to strategically or technically. We had to develop our own sensors and mechanical designs technically, and we had to come up with various user scenarios to finalize our functional libraries.”

He looked to rebrand and further develop the product following his initial success, but he needed funding in order to make improvements. Last spring, PIE launched its first Kickstarter campaign and reached its $30,000 crowdfunding goal in less than a day, and eventually raised over $1.3 million total.

“Before [the] Kickstarter campaign, most of the people doubted my idea — ‘Do people really want innovation in measuring length/size?’ — this is what I mostly heard from investors,” Park said. “But [the] Kickstarter campaign result turned out that, yes. They really do want innovation in measuring size.”

Park partners with his older brother, technical consulting firm JastinTech VP Soo Park, to distribute the product globally. JastinTech works with several Korea-based, government-backed technologies, distributing PIE through its local headquarters in Columbia.

The success of the campaign was a surprise for the his brother, too.

“We didn’t anticipate anything like that at all,” Soo Park said. “We didn’t know how powerful it is to get your message out to the world.”

The latest model of PIE offers a more soft, slim design than the initial product. It can be connected to multiple smartphones, and up to 100 members can be added to a single account, making it an ideal tool for fitness groups, instructors, coaches and personal trainers.

The product has applications beyond fitness as well, Park said: It can also be used by parents to track a child’s growth or by parents-to-be to track a baby bump, and it can be helpful for fashion companies looking to decrease return rates by manufacturing custom-fit clothes.

PIE will be testing this theory through another Kickstarter campaign at the end of this month where people can use their measurement data to create their own customized jeans. Moving forward, PIE looks to integrate itself into the fashion industry and expand its global outreach.

“Our overall goal is to make PIE available to every consumer possible,” Soo Park said. “Everybody wants to get customized clothes now. Our tape measure solution provides measurement for each person’s bodies, which allows apparel companies to manufacture unique clothing.”

Companies: Johns Hopkins

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