Start-up Pool-On showed at Piscine Global Europe 2022 arousing interest with its underwater video projectors which make swimming even more enjoyable. This idea by former top-level swimmers Matthieu Combat and Alain Bernard and intrapreneur Gwénaël Moy solves several problems familiar to public pool managers. We wanted to find out more about this innovation in a discussion with Alain BERNARD and Caroline VICARIOT, Pool-On brand manager.
What is Pool-On exactly?
“Pool-On is a patented removable Plug & Play projector system which transforms the bottom of a swimming pool into a screen. A little like Netflix, we lease out a playlist of contents to entertain swimmers in the pool. Our idea is to make swimming more attractive and boost the fun to get everyone into the water and improve their physical and mental health, while helping public pool managers make their facilities more profitable.”
How did you get this idea?
“After 20 years, in the summer of 2021, Matthieu got back into swimming when he discovered the Corsican seabeds. He had given up swimming in pools as he found them boring. It was while following fish in the Mediterranean that he imagined adding a fun dimension to swimming. The idea was already hatched by the time he swam up to his friend Gwénaël’s boat and together they planned how to recreate his experience with advanced technologies and took Alain on as another crew member in this great water-based adventure.”
Pool-On projector system
Who helped you to develop your solution?
“We are experts in all the technical challenges related to immersion - optics, power, waterproofing, heat, pressure and attachments. To create contents, we called on video game companies expert in video mapping.
To imagine our video concepts, the way we work is by coconstruction with the collective pool owners to customize the contents for them which are sometimes even exclusive. We work with pool professionals to design contents for top-level athletes, to accompany rehabilitation sessions, etc. For teaching swimming, we join forces with experts and institutions. The only limitation is imagination! ”
Your innovation is primarily for public swimming pools. What does it do for the managers?
“Public pools are under enormous economic pressure, accentuated by the rise in power costs. They have got to become more attractive to cover their overheads and make a profit. By digitalizing their offer and adding value to their pools, they can justify higher admission rates, attract a wider public and balance their charges.
For example, you can privatize a swimming lane with an augmented swimming session or define zones with different work levels, which makes it possible to divide up the pool’s usable zones without the installation of physical signs. The first owners who tested our innovation noted that it was easier to use than putting bicycles, balls and supports in their pools which subsequently have to be collected, stored and cleaned! And that users have more fun.”
What can Pool-On do to help every kind of swimmer with training?
“Athletes preparing triathlons often leave their training program written on a piece of paper they leave beside the pool and so they have to break their rhythm to check it out. With our underwater projection system, you don’t have to interrupt your program – and can add a little fun too! Some swimmers like to follow an avatar, others prefer to race the clock pursued by a wall of flames. And we will soon be able to use sensors that allow swimmers to see how well they are doing in real time projected on the bottom of the pool. It’s much more motivating!
We also want to develop contents for the handicapped. We have only just started this project and recently launched a partnership with medical teams. For the physically and/or mentally handicapped, pools are sources of absolute escape and we want to propose an experience combining sport and entertainment, suitable for their problems.”
How can Pool-On help teach people to swim?
“It is totally unacceptable that in 2023 there are still so many people who drown in industrialized countries. In France, 50% of 11 year-olds entering Middle School cannot swim correctly! By making swimming more fun, for example by getting the children to follow their favorite character, you can convince children to overcome the fear of putting the heads underwater and lie on and in the water horizontally. This way they realize that their body easily floats. Pool-On is a digital tool which can be used as a teaching support to facilitate swimming lessons.
Future projects include using this innovation in swimming pools to heighten awareness of the need to protect marine ecosystems. If instructors want to address this topic, rather than projecting a video in classrooms, they can take the class to a pool and let the students discover seabeds in immersion. Some seaside hotels are also interested in this possibility, as they have noticed that their guests only use the swimming pool and do not venture out into the nearby seabeds.”
Piscine Global Europe 2022 was the first Show at which you presented Pool-On. Did it attract the public?
The reception by the professionals was more than positive! People were fascinated and we had many requests for private pools, although they are not our current priority. We were the “friendly start-up”, and very big — including international — companies made their way through the Show to visit us. We felt that the trade was really enthusiastic.
Pool-On provides an innovative, fun solution, which facilitates public pool management and enhances profitability “so that nobody has to spend their time in the water counting the tiles on the pool floor.” Well done!
Thanks to Alain BERNARD and Caroline VICARIOT for their contribution.
© Photos credits: Pool On