What does an accomplished engineer, management executive and athlete do for an encore? Simple: he invents a new technology, a new career, and a new company to build super-tech training tools for elite athletes.
Richard Kirby attended UC Santa Barbara, Oregon State and Stanford universities, where he studied electrical, mechanical and software engineering, earned a BS in mechanical engineering and a master’s in business administration. Years later, after landing progressively more senior roles in engineering and management with Hewlett-Packard Company (HP), he found himself staring out the window of his Grenoble office, gazing at the French Alps.
At that time, Richard was managing a group responsible for conceiving new handheld consumer products. What he invented was a breakthrough performance measurement tool for ski racers. With that invention he began a new career in the ski racing industry.
A cross-country ski racer and former Category 1 bicycle racer, Richard was no stranger to what it takes to improve personal performance. As an ardent competitor looking out at those Alps, he envisioned a training product that would, for the first time, enable racers to measure—with sub-millimeter precision—how their skis move across the snow. Among other performance metrics, it would give them instant audible feedback to help fine tune their technique and their line.
“My favorite quote,” says Richard, “and the one that sums up what Advanced Racing Computers is striving to achieve with vLink™, is from Thomas S. Monson: ‘When performance is measured, performance improves; when performance is measured and reported, performance accelerates.’”
HP blessed Richard’s idea—first with internal funding, then with initial funding for a new spin-off company: Kirby Sport Performance (KSP) Research. KSP’s mission was to develop the technology for use on snow to enhance competitive training.
Richard and KSP Research connected with the US Ski Team’s Sports Science department in 2004. The team immediately recognized the potential of the technology as a research and training tool, and the two organizations formed a strategic alliance.
Following thousands of hours of engineering work, several patents, a series of prototypes, and collaborative engagements with ski manufacturers and national ski teams, Richard and KSP Research joined forces with Andrews-Cooper Technology. A contract engineering firm comprised of former HP engineers, Andrews-Cooper specialized in designing portable, highly rugged devices. They were a perfect match: KSP needed their design expertise, and Andrews-Cooper wanted to develop and market the new product.
Together they have launched Advanced Racing Computers, and are introducing the vLink™ racer training tool. Racer on course!