The Making of Basculo

Exercising can be fun if done with others and even that is not the case for everyone. Doing it alone is more than often a chore. Anything that can make

3 years ago

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Exercising can be fun if done with others and even that is not the case for everyone. Doing it alone is more than often a chore. Anything that can make the activity less than “mandatory” can only lead to build up the necessary confidence to perform the "chore" more frequently and with a due rhythm that actually leads to results. Fun and rhythm are two cardinal pieces to get results. I would argue about anything but particularly at the job of losing calories while not feeling miserable.

A gaming experience meshed within some type of workout is hardly a nuance those days. However, as all fads the excitement tend to fade out when the link between the investment in time and sweat doesn’t balance with the perceived results. Most humans, particularly the male homo sapiens patience for any result is not in spade available as for the counterpart of the same species.

If you didn't pay attention in school about the breakdown that likely you belong too (my cat reads, it doesn't get the meaning but it attempts to follow my cursor as I write this) here is the classification:

just that you know...there is no other species of Homo sapiens. However, in my experience within the same species females tend to be hugely more patient than males, about anything. I know that because I am married and she has not killed me (yet) for forgetting things she constantly and regularly reminds me. Particularly to pick her up from  Zumba class. If you are a male and haven't tried a Zumba class let me tell you that your views on the subject of patience are very skewed!I digress... With all this knowledge about friction of staying healthy and fit particularly post holidays, I set to build something that could be multi purpose, easy to store and shareable regardless of the body size.

Entering... BASCULO. The word tipping in Italian is translated with bascolare. That is what I picked for codename of a device that among other things let you exercise the core of your body while playing games that keep your mind busy. The idea is far from being "new", as matter of fact I own two of this and I also participated to their kickstarter when it came out years ago.

You place a smartphone on the board and using your balance and weight play a game. However, I found that with that device there are the following limitations:

I wanted to fix those things and in the process I unearthed many other options that the team behind those devices have not put in focus. I can speculate of the rational but why... :-)

This invention is patent pending US9136092C2, however, in my usual spirit of sharing innovation and fostering advancement of the species, let me tell you the story of how all this came about.

For the first time in 15 years I visited my family in Italy for Christmas. On average I go back every two years but since I have only mom as parent and she is getting older, I figured of starting a new tradition and going back more often and on key family moments, like Christmas.

While I was fending off any atrociously good homemade food she was shoveling toward me at any given time of the day... moms! I grabbed the iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil and start doing what I usually do when I am bored, invent something.

The design started with a semi triangle shape but after talking to folks coming out of several gyms in town I ended up on the oldest shape of the human race. A CIRCLE. That addresses the storage issue as it is easier to store when compared to existing options.

Regardless of the shape there are few staples components of the design that are:

The initial rudimental thought was not taking in accounts some of those ideas, as the early sketch of the concept shows.

Making the whole surface floatable was crucial. I had initially calculated angles based on various constraints that later I revisited due to forces and inertial shifts that were less heavy that I had originally estimated. I used a lemon (huge in Amalfi) into a ball, applying different weight on the edges to evaluate the forces. I recall recording the effort but couldn't find the video at the time of writing this down.

The base of the device had to be smooth enough to oscillate in any direction with the same degree of curvature, and at same time strong enough to handle heavy duty body weight. One device to rule them all. The choice ended up being a bowling ball.

My mom (70) was the leading inspiration for that component, has she has been per many other evolution of my designs and life. Grazie Mama!

My wonderful cousin Ciro kindly helped me to speak to the owner of the local bowling place where I was spending the holidays. I retrieved a dismissed bowl that served wonderfully the purpose. Ciro wasn’t as lucky as my mom’s and brother in ending up on the podium for our traditional bowling throw and brag night.

My youth old friend Vincenzo Colonnese kindly allowed the use of his heavy metal shop to cut the bowl. I had the slow motion video of the cut but clearly in the thousands of pictures taken during the trip I have to send a san bernard to find it!

The material inside the bowl is different based on the effect that one is aiming for performance and weight. Generally speaking bowling balls are made of four main different types of Coverstocks-Plastic, Urethane, Reactive Resin, and Particle (Proactive). The big difference between these coverstock materials is how they perform and react on the lane's surface when they are thrown. As matter of fact, the making of a bowling ball is quite fascinating.

The base of the device ended up being a cutting board with a lazy Susan support. The reason why I went with that and not just the board alone is because I wanted the center of the device to have double support to hold the ball, add space between the forces and the surface. And ultimately avoiding that it would split in half. The screws in the center could have put strain on the very soft wood that the cutting board was made of.

My partners in crime (Bro on the left and cousin on the right) were huge supporter of this prototype making, while spending time with family in Italy. The cousin own a very large retail business so I endup shopping for multiple objects to build and destroy...

The assembling of all parts was pretty straightforward. I removed the plastic layer that allows the lazy susan to work.

Then we locked the bottom using four wood screws with auto lock head that would not exit the other side.

We then improvised a holding phone socket with a slut we found around the garden. In my custom built US inventor shop I have everything a maker can desire but at mom's I had to just do what I used to do when I was in trouble and asked for explanation of my misbehavior.

Improvise and hope it would work.

We used four screws from the top and some nail glue in the holes to make sure that the body of the bowl was going to become one piece for the whole structure.

Then we tested it using a young floppy man (bro) and a stronger older man (Mom's partner).

Feedback were pretty solid despite of the very large skepticism that initially sported from the moment that I floated the idea over our whatsapp family channel. That would not be a new thing for me :-) As inventor I never heard anyone getting excited until it is actually done-done, the story of inventing will never evolve...

An inventor never stops and so the ability to make it happen. Big thanks to all my supporters in the making of this prototype even while I was enjoying some well deserved time from my intense Google work. Grazie family!

The video below, made out of my iPhone as I had everything else back home in the US, gives a gist of my description above. Enjoy.

I will post an update once the software components:

  1. Watch for guiding the standing pose
  2. Phone for planking (accelerometer at work)
  3. And tvOS app for balancing

have passed by checks and balances... (pun pun!!!) also once the lawyer tells me that the second patent is filed :-)


After posting on my FB page that I was looking for beta testers linking to this article, I received 139 orders. I only made one proto and they are all talking about buying. Wow! And I thought I get excited 'bout simple things :-)

I have less than 150 friends on FB due to my social policy. So in perspective that is a huge success.

People are saying "I would pay $100 for this, can you put me on the next prototype queue..." and things of that nature. I don't have an industrial compound LOL, but I am, (w/ Victoria's help) building way more protos that I would have normally even considered be doing because of the very intense interest that I unearthed.

My laser focus attention post working hours at Google is on FLINT therefore very likely I am going to off load this project to my co-inventor of all things that follow under the hat "Mario doesn't have time for this", in the wild known as "wife and daughters" -- smart women hunting for more opportunities to guilty dad for cash and hubby for special cuddles.

I am excited to see where this goes. Will post an update when the prototype II is up and running. Some of the source code for the apps will be posted on my Github as usual.

As for the final commercial name, more likely I will license the IP but if I finally decide to commercialize it, I will definitely use the same logic and patterns that made my other brands be so successful. SensorIA was pretty much an instant love when I created it, I plan to find something as simple to associate but if you have ideas share away, inspiration often coming from the most unlikely sources.

Mario Esposito

Published 3 years ago