Thursday, April 10, 2014

Everything to keep you connected

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Outdoor enthusiasts nowadays want to stay connected to friends, family and their music favourites via phone, laptop or audio player, even when bundu bashing. Athletes want music and coaching information on the run. Solar chargers, wind chargers, power adaptors and wireless bluetooth connections keep tablets, smartphones, radios, GPS’ running all the time, from the Amazon to Zimbabwe.

The  many ways in which people on the go can stay connected was recently demonstrated at a Wintec Solutions media and dealer conference.

Rene Winter explains how his products keep active people connected

Wintec Solutions was founded in 2006 by South African Rene Winter, who qualified as a mechatronic engineer in the mid-2000’s, just when the world started waking up to the possibilities of action audio products. After obtaining an engineering degree from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland (his parents are Irish), he specialised in mechatronic engineering at Napier University in Scotland, before joining SFX Technologies. He developed two patents for audio devices – for example, to convert a cellphone into a speaker by using a table as amplifier - before homesickness brought him back to South Africa.

Here, lifestyle electronics was still in its infancy and he therefore decided to ask Jerry Ranger, CEO of Powertraveller, with whom he worked closely in the UK, if he could distribute their products in South Africa.
Powertraveller was the first brand Rene Winter imported.


Powertraveller is aimed at keeping adventurers, sports enthusiasts, travellers, people on the road connected, explains Winter. “People in a lot of different markets need alternative power sources and there is a lot of research being done into renewable energy options like wind, solar etc.  to keep  people connected.”

Powertraveller has been developing portable power for the past 25 years and have won several awards. They have several portable power management systems -  for example, multiple power attachments, a glow-in-the-dark version and the Powermonkey Extreme with the Aquastrap that is so waterproof that it functions even when submerged in a fish tank for up to 30 minutes, to name a few. One power source can charge a desktop computer to give it eight hours extra battery life, another will charge handheld devices for a week. 

The Powermonkey Extreme  works after it was dropped in a fish tank.
Some are solar power chargers, others are wound-up. But all are lightweight, compact and portable.

Ray Chaplin, an IT industry-expert turned adventurer, explained how the small Powertraveller solar charger enabled him to tweet, phone and blog during his six month trip along the whole length of the Orange River – from Lesotho to the sea. Along the way, he joined with schools in community clean-up projects along the riverbanks and in order to organise that, he his phone had to be charged every evening. He relied on Powertraveller to charge his phone, GPS and GoPro in 1 ½ hours every evening, he told the audience.

 Adventurer Ray Chaplin explains how he stayed “connected” during a 6-month riverboarding trip.
When Powertraveller proved its success, Winter started looking for new portable connection brands in the sports and outdoors industries and found Skross – a portable USB charger with “a whole range of connecting power”,  Skech protective and waterproof cases, Jobi (now replaced with Outdoor Tech) and Runtastic.


The Runtastic GPS watch with heart rate monitor, bluetooth heart rate monitors, speed sensors and safety armbands work with a range of apps to act as tracking, “coaching” and connecting devices for athletes.

 Wintec Solutions marketing manager Janine Forster and general manager Nina Moten with the Runtastic range.

A wide range of apps can be downloaded on cellphones. Sports armbands and bike cases are available in the range to keep cellphones in place during a run or workout.

Accessories like a headlamp to light the way, a scale that not only measures weight, but also body fat and water percentages, muscle and bone mass, BMI, BMR and calories burned, are among the products that further enhance the training experience.

The newest brand they acquired is Outdoor Tech.

Outdoor Tech

What sets Outdoor Tech apart from other companies supplying lifestyle audio accessories is their cheeky, fun approach, says new international sales director, Bobby Ali. Besides offering reasonable products at reasonable prices that are easy to use, waterproof and shockproof, he adds.

Outdoor Tech international sales director Bobby Ali shows how their packaging  explain product features in a fun way
“We say we offer ‘the stuff you probably want’ – the customer is not this super technology guy.”

Instead of confusing consumers with decibels and all kinds of other very technical numbers, they explain the functions and benefits of their wireless speakers, headphones and ear buds in terms that anyone can understand. “Louder than a bear roaring” is a sound volume that people can relate to – as well as “rattle-your teeth, shatter-the fish-tank, honestly-bro-I-can’t-hear you-loud” description of the Big Turtle Shell wireless speaker. Or, the ruggedness of their DJ Slims headphones: “You probably can’t break them, not that you’re a nancy or anything…”

This humorous approach was one of the contributions Ali made when he was persuaded to leave his senior position as Territory Manager for Oakley and join the new action lifestyle wireless audio brand.

The wireless products offered by Outdoor Tech have been designed with a rubberized finish to withstand rugged handling in the outdoors or when travelling on bikes – with attachments supplied. 

The “fun” theme is incorporated in interesting designs – like the turtle shell shape of their speakers – and the bright colours of the products. They can all be easily paired with any bluetooth device. 

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