[Interview] Anush Kumar, Co-Founder and Business Development at Titanium Falcon; Producer of the Talon Ring Controller
A new wearable device called the Talon ring developed by Titanium Falcon is changing how users interact with technology. Using innovations that can aid in both the fitness lifestyle category and hardcore gaming, Titanium Falcon's accessory ring device known as the Talon will have the ability to connect with all things throughout technology. Titanium Falcon is debuting with an Indiegogo to bring the Talon ring to developers and consumers throughout the country.
I was very lucky to get in contact with Co-Founder and Business Development man at Titanium Falcon, Anush Kumar. Throughout the interview Anush divulged information regarding the upcoming Indiegogo, device and app integration, and of course the inspiration that sparked the wearable device that could interact with numerous parts of technology.
Going from Healthcare to Mobile Gaming and Beyond
Anush Kumar was very generous with informing me about how the Titanium Falcon formed together as a company, and how they went forward with their ideas in the mobile wearable market.
Courtney Gamache (CG): What sparked the idea for the Talon ring controller?
Anush Kumar (AK): So we created this company last year as we (co-founder Huijuan Guo and I) graduated from Thunderbird School of Global Management over in Phoenix Arizona.
Back then wearables was the buzzword. Everyone was talking about it. The tech innovations had come down from a mobile level to a wearable level; which was once thought impossible.
However, all the innovations we were seeking back in 2013/2014 was in the fitness and healthcare category. Being both hardcore gamers with experience in the gaming industry, we wanted to give back something to this industry that we are passionate about.
It was only then a matter of time when we realized the same algorithm/technology can be used for gaming purposes as well, predominantly in the mobile gaming industry.
As we felt that segment was in need of this innovation more than main stream video gaming, we then hence hope to create this new segment called MCMG (motion controlled mobile gaming).
CG: Was there any already developed technology that helped to build/create the Talon's motion control?
AK: Design in accordance to our team is an improvement of the current motion control remotes. We imagined how the Wii-mote would be if it was shrunken down to the wearable level.
Some of our knowledge had stemmed from working around Arduino (those do-it-yourself circuits). Also to be honest at the time we were aware of a few wearable devices that light up or vibrate when you receive mobile notifications, so we knew we were on the right path in terms of design.
CG: When I was researching the about the Talon I noted the mention of apps and devices that the ring could become compatible with; are there any already put-in-motion for the Indiegogo launch?
AK: Currently we have working prototypes with apps on the Android OS; our next target is iOS, then Windows and so on. It's a step-by-step process as we are limited to a small in-house dev team.
As we speak, one of my other tasks is to create a meaningful business partnerships, for example: If I can work with experienced mobile development companies like Rovio or EA or even hardware giants like Microsoft and Sony, I could leverage on their resources to speed up the said development for all platforms or even stick to exclusives if I'm lucky enough to get these big players on board.
In the Indiegogo campaign we also have a developers version that gets shipped sooner than the regular customer version; with the purpose to gain leverage on the indie community of developers to create content for us. Just like how Android rose to its fame.
Basically there are several approaches to these partnerships.
The Vitascope arts Film crew and the promo video actors with the team
CG: Are there any little details you can leak about the planning of the Indiegogo that is debuting this month? Is there a planned duration for the campaign?
AK: We are going live officially on September 16th, with 45 days as our initial plan. If things don't go well we have the opportunity to extend it to 60 days, but I really hope it does not come to that. It would only happen if we are unable to reach our goal soon enough.
CG: Are there any backer/funding slots you can share with us? Such as, how much the Talon would be for in the crowdfunding setting versus the retail?
AK: Oh actually we are still working on the exact price of the product since we will have to consider small things like the backer's sales tax and credit card fees into our price.
However, what I can tell you for certain is that we want to price the product less than $100 for retail, which could also result in $99. Once we figured our operation and manufacturing costs, we made sure to strongly strive for less than the $100 price tag.
We will also be giving at least a 10% discount for the Indiegogo backers too, but as I said the exact price has not been fixed yet.
CG: In terms of a consumer standpoint, how will the Talon ring be produced in accordance to different sizes? Will there be options for smaller-sized rings or is it a one-size-fits-all?
AK: There will be 4 different sizes of Talon rings. Each ring can support up to 3 sizes (according to the US ring size standards). The rings also have a plastic/rubber surface where the skin touches the ring that not only helps adjust the size either up or down by one, but also allows for air circulation.
Since the anticipation for the ring is to be worn for long periods of time (not just for gaming), we want it to be as comfortable as possible. After testing it with our team and close friends (our minions) we found it to be possible.
Basically we want you to almost forget it's on your finger after you wear it, that's why we are so focused on making it light and durable as well.
Like I have gigantic fingers so we certainly can't go with a ring for my size alone to the market.
CG: Has there been any thought with pairing other types of wearable devices such as the Apple watch, Google Lens, or Oculus Rift with the Talon? It seems the wearable device market has gotten very big in both gaming and daily life.
AK: Yes this was also one of our ways of acquiring partnerships. We are a mobile accessory company as of now, while the Occulus is a VR company that deals with display devices. They are not the only ones, as there are many more companies in stealth mode. Looking at a partnership standpoint, we could be a possible option for them as an input device/controller in terms of being an end to end VR device.
See, this is my dream or goal that I one day want to achieve. Total immersion.
The gamer should not play a game anymore, he or she should be in it. The VR display along with our motion controller can help make that a reality.
I know as a gamer I would like to experience that.
CG: Looking towards the future of the Talon, what do you see as the complete end goal technologically? Are there any long-term goals that Titanium Falcon has for their creation?
AK: So I personally have a lot in mind for how we can proceed. In terms of product diversification, multiple product segments etc. But thinking in terms of a business as a whole, we are flexible by to being the sole proprietors after being well funded or also by being acquired by a larger group as long as we are still in the same team. I'm guessing the former will involve way more negotiations than the working on our own approach.
Coming back to the product ideas, there are always going to be tech innovations like in terms of reduction in size and/or increase in functionality. Next year if a new variant for one of my internal components comes out, we will have to test it and possibly launch new products with that said hardware.
CG: As a business man and designer, what got you into designing these devices for video games and beyond in the technology field?
AK: I was born and brought up in Kuwait and maybe it was the weather there but I used to sit at home and play a lot of video games, so much that I used to not go to school and sit in and play Sega or the SNES with my friends.
Clearly from the get-go I wanted to get into the gaming industry one way or another, but Kuwait had no opportunities then (educational programs) to get me there. As a result, I went to India (where I am originally supposed to be from) and got my Bachelor's degree in Information Technology.
In India as well, the gaming industry had not flourished, with only minor game testing taking place at the time. Hence, I started working for an IT company honing my Project Management skills, waiting for an opportunity to enter the USA to pursue my dream. I made it here in 2012, acquired my MBA in International Business in Phoenix. I now feel like I have made a lot of progress on that dream of mine.
I believe that I have a technical knowledge and the business acumen to enter and establish myself in the gaming industry. I consider myself very fortunate to have had this journey so far, but I got to keep striving forward.
CG: Do you have any goals outside of the Titanium Falcon Inc.?
AK: Not right now. Titanium Falcon takes up most of my time (I mean whatever is left over after playing Destiny and League of Legends), but one day I hope to play a bigger part in this entrepreneurship/startup ecosystem over here. So many people have been helpful ever since I got here to the Silicon Valley last year and once I have my own thing going I want to give back to this community.
Oh also my dad is retiring from his job in Kuwait soon, and I want to have him run a restaurant that I hope to open someday.
As someone who is very fascinated with this wearable device, I can say I'll be looking into their Indiegogo later this week and watching how they progress as a company. There are bound to be upcoming articles as Titanium Falcon develops as a company and starts to retail their Talon product.
What are your thoughts on Titanium Falcon's Talon ring? Can it become useful with daily apps like Facebook and Twitter? Share your thoughts below!