What was the scope of their involvement?
After we started working with Dot Com, the project was turned over exclusively to me. At that point, we went back and forth with basic API coding. I worked with their crew to simplify very complex physics formulas into an app that allowed customers to input easily understandable values—such as how fast the ball was thrown and how much rotation was put into it—simply by moving some toggles with their thumb. We simplified some very complex mathematics and physics into a straightforward, intuitive graphical interface.
They took my spreadsheet and input, coded them into a tight package, and converted it to Android and iOS apps.
We created a database to track customer input feedback and variables. The original spreadsheet included some encrypted coding, which didn’t allow users to see exactly what it was doing. We created the app so that user inputs would cross our servers, with the complicated algorithmic math being done on our side and the results being delivered on the user side. The proprietary technology is kept secret, but the app is still available to anyone.
Bowling can be reduced to physics, such as how fast the ball is released from the player’s hand, how many revolutions per minute are imparted, and how many degrees the axis tilts. Depending on the orientation of the weight block, the internal component of every high-end bowling ball, it will either go dead straight, crosswise, or somewhere in between. Professional bowlers use different motions. We might want to hook a ball as early or as late as possible. More likely than not, the ideal is somewhere in the middle.
The concept behind our app was to input how we would like the ball to change direction using a sliding bar that charted both sudden and very gradual changes. A user won’t necessarily understand how concepts like moment of inertia, radius of gyration, and center of gravity cause the ball to do what it does. They just throw the ball down the lane and watch it hook.
We created a user interface that was simple for the average person to understand. When inputting all their information, they can affect the weight block orientation inside the ball. Given that we can’t physically see the inside of the ball, this is something that no one thinks about.
As the math person, I gave Dot Com’s team all these formulas. Tim [Founder and CEO, Dot Com] was not a bowler, but basically understood the sport. We sat down and talked through these concepts. He and his team created an interface that a non-engineer could comprehend. This was important, given that—even though I could speak all the math and physics I wanted—the vast majority of bowlers don’t understand these concepts.
What is the team composition?
I worked with Tim and three other members of the company, who assisted us with the user interface, math model, and database. Tim was responsible for delegating the entire project.
Using a dedicated team, Dot Com also worked on troubleshooting and bug finding. They put together a professional report listing both critical and minor bugs.
How did you come to work with Dot Com?
I had devised a better way of customizing bowling balls, designed a proof-of-theory, and given it to my team. After it was circulated, we decided to create a better, more professional-looking version for the public. Our vice president of marketing made a web query and found Dot Com. We chatted and were impressed with how professionally Tim handled himself. He could provide good real-time answers, so we decided to give him the entire project.
We considered three other vendors, including a more cost-effective option. Many college students are bowlers, and would have done their best for free bowling equipment, but we wanted a level of professionalism which they might not have been able to deliver. Between three other professional developers and a few miscellaneous company friends or associates, we decided on Dot Com. They interviewed well and their website was professional. They also sent over a presentation showing their previous clients and projects. One of those projects was an app for a larger airline company. Given that all of us travel a lot, we’d used that app quite a bit. It became clear to us that Dot Com was a professional option.
How much have you invested with them?
For the initial version of the app and an upgrade, we paid between $65,000 and $70,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with Dot Com in late-2013. The app was delivered at the beginning of 2017. It had been finished before that time—probably in late 2016—but the company wanted to hold a large seminar tour and explain how it works before releasing it.
We got the app approved and working on both platforms. After the launch, we encountered some bugs coming from general operating system updates, so we had to send it back to them for a quick cleanup. It was operational within a week.