The Sabertron™ Story
Five years ago, David Lynch was watching his pre-teen boys play video game after video game. They were glued to the couch. Wanting to get them off the couch and outside, David went into his garage and made swords out of black foam and PVC pipes. He then brought his boys outside for some good, old-fashioned homemade swordplay.
It was a lot of fun except for one thing—they lost interest because you couldn’t find out who won. There was a lot of arguing and many claims of “I hit you” and “no you didn’t.”
That’s when David had the idea; “what if I could make foam swords with electronic scoring? I’m a Computer Engineer by trade. I bet I could get these swords to keep score electronically.”
From that day forward, he was determined to make it happen, but it wasn’t easy. He tinkered in his garage yet he couldn’t get it to work, so eventually he gave up, but never giving up completely. David kept thinking there had to be a way to make it work and kept searching for the answer. He searched the Internet for other people who’d done something similar, and all he could find information on was fencing.
Five years later, he was driving down the road, and it hit him. He was over-thinking the whole thing. David’s original plan focused on a complicated proximity detection scheme or another option that used the swordsman’s body as a data conduit, but both of those ideas were too complicated and not even invented yet. So he simplified it and thought, “This just might work!”
Once he figured it out, he got a couple of Arduino development kits and plugged them into a couple of wireless chips. After testing the system out a few times he realized, “Wow, this actually is going to work.” A new chapter in the Sabertron™ story was unfolding.
David asked his friend Tim Reichard to join the quest, to give Sabertron a web presence and to help with logistics in his spare time while he continued to work on the swords. David then built the first two Sabertron™ prototypes out of PVC and foam, just like the versions from the backyard. However, after playing for just a few moments, Tim and David realized that these swords wouldn’t work even for prototype testing. They were way too heavy, weighing about a couple of pounds each.
David and Tim made the decision to switch to off-the-shelf foam swords. They put sensors into the sword handles and put the Arduinos in a fanny pack with the health meter on their chest and back. Finally, they played the first game of Sabertron™, and it was a lot of fun! But the system was bulky and still not good enough to demonstrate the idea well.
They proceeded to build new prototypes that utilized 3D printing. David found a mechanical engineer on Elance to develop the 3D model of the handle. He then wrapped this model in LED light strips to act like a health meter. Around this time, Joe Mandy joined the team and set out to help with Sabertron’s™ social media presence.
Then, on the week before Christmas, the company where David worked at ran out of funding and went out of business. He was laid off without severance along with 125 employees. Needing to figure out what to do next, he decided to go all in with Sabertron. David quickly realized that no one would be doing any hiring until well into the new year, so he went full-time on Sabertron™ and got the prototypes ready to launch by late January.
Sabertron’s first Kickstarter campaign was a smashing success! Well, except, it didn’t meet the funding goal. The goal was to raise $195,000, but instead they raised $55,527. However, the experience was priceless and helped the Sabertron team gain exposure and make some great connections. Sabertron™ was featured by The Discovery Channel, Engadget, TechCrunch, CNET, Re/code and IGN. In May, the Sabertron team launched on Kickstarter again. This time around they executed remarkably to reach a funding level of $233,852 with 1,318 backers. Sabertron’s Kickstarter video was touted by many viewers as “The Best Kickstarter Video Ever.” Sabertron™ is now officially a thing!
Since the Kickstarter has ended, there has been continual excitement and anticipation for the Sabertron™ sword product. To meet this demand the Sabertron team has grown. As of October 2014, John Davidson was brought on board to lead the team as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He has extensive leadership and business experience in the semiconductor industry. He is both passionate and a true supporter of Sabertron™, evident in his action as an early investor and co-founder. David Lynch has relinquished his title as CEO and will work as Chief Technology Officer (CTO), continuing to pioneer and invent Internet of Things (IoT) gaming technologies. This is only the beginning of the Sabertron™ story. By pre-ordering Sabertron™, you will be participating in the Sabertron™ story, helping us to revolutionize the swordplay experience.