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Johan Isaksson – Navigation by Sound

Johan Isaksson - Navigation by Sound #1


Describe yourself and your project. How did you get the idea?

I’m 25 years old and have been living in Lund for the past six. I like to stay creative in various ways, including coding, writing and image and music related things. I got the project idea during a tired night off writing our bachelor thesis, watching a video of a guy playing a video game while blindfolded: ”It’d be interesting to try the strategy he uses now, times a thousand, in the real world.”


Who are you? Previous education/jobs/ experiences etc.

I’m a very-soon-to-be biomedical engineer with a specialization in image and signal processing, writing my thesis in parallell with the Leapfrogs project. I received a Leapfrogs scholarship last year as well for the very same project – which proved extremely valuable – and was also part of the Nordic Independent Living Challenge with it during last autumn (mainly), giving/forcing me ample opportunity to work with it beside school.


What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?

I will investigate new sensor technologies that’ll make a vast improvement of my last prototype (made during last Leapfrogs) possible, as well as produce proof that there’s a market for an end-product; after which possibly starting up some patent and company processes.


What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?

In quantitative terms: a new improved prototype and having a market analysis I can refer to when talking to investors and searching for funding. In qualitative terms: figure out if I need to go job hunting when done with my thesis or, hopefully, if this is realizable projects.


Johan Isaksson - Navigation by Sound #2


Tell us what you have done on your project so far during the Leapfrogs time.

The prototype development has been made on three fronts, where a third-party will help with the ”optimal” prototype (if I can find the funds); I am working on a performance boost on the old prototype; a more experimental concept is being tried out.

I am also constructing a market analysis, where I have done some research and have written interviews to end users and organisations – which I am in the initialization phase of conducting.

Lastly I have been searching for funding and other support, which might prove successful soon.


Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?

The third-party help has gone smoothly, albeit with some matters that will have to be ironed out if funding is received. My own prototyping has gone slowly, with more issues than expected, but with some progress.

The market analysis has also benn tubulent: relevant data is hard to find, and it might be questionable to extrapolate it to Sweden or Europe, and vacation times makes finding interviewees tough. I am, however, satisfied with how the interviews will be structured.

Support/funding searching has taken a fair amount of time.


What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?

Right now I will focus on conducting the market analysis – which, among other things, is a vital step for finding both funding and further support. The funding/support aspect itself will be handled continuously as meetings, mails and applications comes and goes.

In the mean time, the prototyping will have to be put on hold, or at least be significantly less prioritized, until the market analysis is done.

Johan Isaksson - Navigation by Sound #3


How did you experience the three months?

It has been great to really focus on the project; that alone has provided lots of insight in what has to be done and what to prioritize. The workshops has also been great and it is inspiring to know that there is a bunch of people working  equally hard on their own projects. I do regret though that the state of the project did not allow me to work alongside the other leapfroggers in, for example, WTC Lund – something that was very enjoyable and motivating last summer.


What has been hardest/most enjoyable?

To improve on the prototype proved to be harder than expected, but all aspects of it is nonetheless enjoyable. It has also been hard to get in contact with the end users, and I have only been able to hold a few interviews so far.

The most enjoyable moment was to present the project in its entirety to Vinnova, whom provided excellent feedback, questions and ultimately granted me their support, which both is a great confirmation of the project’s viability and allows its development to continue smoothly.


Did it go as expected? Will you continue working on your project in the future?

As mentioned above, both the prototype development and end users contact went worse than expected. Especially the prototyping encountered an array of unforeseen obstacles which hindered its progress considerably.

Also as hinted at above, the project will continue (in a few months) with the aid from Vinnova, whom provided me funding for at least the first year of a PhD for the project; an absolutely great opportunity career-wise, and for the project! In this regard these months have surpassed my expectations by a great margin.


What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?

Lessons learnt or re-learnt these last months: never take progress for granted; if one aspect of a project becomes uninspiring tackle another for a while; a job well-done will stay well-done, come (very) well prepared to presentations and search for support often, widely and from different perspectives.


Do you have any tips to other ”new” entrepreneurs?

Mainly to find the most vital aspect to prioritize at any given time. What will keep the project going forward? It is very easy to keep working on something and try to perfect it, disregarding the diminishing returns of utility/effort your time will result in. This is something that I constantly have to remind myself of.