Zone 4: Part 1

Software to Hardware and Humble Beginnings


Zone4 is a software and hardware company that focuses on accurate race times. ONETWOSIX has been working for some time now on an enclosure for their one-of-a-kind chip, and we thought it would be a great time to feature them on our blog.

Dan Roycroft has been developing race timing software since he was in high school. He developed a passion for this project at a very young age as a skier. Dan has competed in many international racers as well as the Winter Olympics. While working one race, the DOS software he was using crashed. Two weeks later, Dan developed his own program to do that very race. It was a success and he continued his development into University.

“I kept thinking, ‘Somebody else is going to do this, somebody else is going to do this,’ I didn’t really think it would ever be me, but after three years of university nobody had actually done it yet.”
                                        — Dan Roycroft

 For his final year he received credit to develop his software and was able to work at facility local ski club in Thunder Bay. Roycroft built his software to be user friendly so that smaller clubs could compete with the larger clubs that had the money to afford top of the line specialists and contractors focused on timing.

“Race timing is not a highly utilized area… usually it’s contractors and specialized people who learn a piece of software and they get really good at it. I wanted to make something to support that small club so that they could time their own races.”
                                         — Dan Roycroft

 Later, Dan moved to Canmore to train with the Canadian national team to pursue his passion of cross country skiing. Throughout all of the international traveling, Dan continued to develop his program from his laptop.

After retiring from skiing in 2010, Dan decided to focus on his software fulltime. He hired two people and immediately started working on the next version of the race software as server based software. Starting from the ground up the original team at Zone4 realized that building their own hardware was going to be necessary for the development of the company—as using hardware from a second company creates limitations.

“If you can only adjust the software and you have to rely on somebody else’s hardware you are always going to be bound by that limitation”
                                           Dan Roycroft

After using Passive RFID chips for a couple years Zone4, felt a quick and immediate change was necessary and decided to build their very own chip. They asked themselves what would be the very best chip for this day and age, and decided that a Bluetooth Low-Energy chip would be the absolute perfect chip for their needs. So they developed one, and now have a one-of-a-kind chip.

That’s what led Zone4 to ONETWOSIX—they had a great piece of hardware and software, but needed a hand with the development of a new enclosure to house it all. Zone4 wanted to move quickly to develop a new enclosure for their chip, and we teamed up with them to do just that.

Be on the lookout next week for a more in depth look into our design approach for helping Zone4 develop a durable, sustainable, and functional enclosure for their world class product.