Acon customers around the world enjoy the best bounce in the business. But how is the best bounce created in practice, where do we find inspiration and what kind of safety tips the Acon Research & Development team has for all of us thrill seekers? Let’s find out!
Q: With whom do we have the pleasure to meet with?
A: A dad with a passion for kids’ social and physical wellbeing through safe but thrilling activities. Prior to Acon I was innovating for two decades in top notch Medical Device and Consumer Product companies in the US and Europe. Results of my prior work is inside millions of people’s hearts and cell phones. My name is Markus Lohi.
Q: What is your role at ACON?
A: Acon R&D Director
Q: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: Oh boy, wanna hear the whole list? Pilot, Astronaut, Psychologist, Priest, Archaelogist, Entrepreneur, Large company finance guy and so on… I guess I had lots of inspiration. In the end when it was time to decide, the key question for me was: in what profession can I be part of creating something new?
Q: Three tips to relax after a busy day.
A: 1) Listening to Classical music while driving home 2) Coming home, being greeted by my little baby and join my wife and kids for dinner 3) Walk or run in the evening and then going to my home Sauna. Btw. just about every Finnish house has a sauna! It is a great place to relax and ponder!
Q: What kind of team do you work with?
A: We have an amazing R&D team with diverse background in various fields such as: gtramps, gymnastics, sporting equipment, cars, commuter train, landscape engineering and excavation, wind energy, cell phone and consumer electronics, medical devices. It’s a great privilege to work with such sharp and fun people!
Inside the mind of an Acon designer
Q: Let’s step outside of Acon for a moment. Where do you find inspiration to fuel your thinking?
A: Everywhere! In nature (spider web structure or trees pulling the juices from the leaves and storing it in their trunks over winter). In architecture (bridges, buildings, playground equipment). Playing with kids, trying to understand what they need for fun and safe activities. Discussions with people from diverse background, of course also with top gtrampoliners and trampoline gymnasts. Books and Articles. Occasional visits to museums. I follow other trampoline companies’ Instagram to see what they are up to.
Q: What other companies/brands/products do you admire for having a great mix of design and engineering like Acon?
A: Nike, Audi, Eurotramp, Medtronic, Boston Scientific (having been in the last two for over 10 years - great Implantable Medical Device companies whose products save and improve lives).
Q: Where do you personally find new ideas/innovations to explore (outside of the Acon R&D facility)?
A: Everywhere. In a car while driving, Playing with my kids, Playgrounds, Parks, Trampoline parks. In talking with people. Browsing online. Coffee shops. And yes, since I’m a Finn, sitting in my home sauna, thinking.
Q: When you meet a stranger and tell them you design trampolines, what do they say or ask you first?
A: My kids and grandkids love their trampoline. How is Acon bounce so good?
Q: What project, Acon or otherwise are you most proud of? And why?
A: Tough one. Maybe one of the projects that isn’t in the launch yet so I’ll have to still try be quiet about it.
From the idea to a finished product – lifecycle
How are ideas put into practice when brainstorming ideas for new trampolines, its accessories or other products.
A: We follow Acon’s process of evaluating ideas and bringing new products to market. We integrate customers (kids of all ages, youth, parents) into this process from the very beginning to the end. We have also built an extremely capable prototype lab that allows us to quickly test ideas in practice vs. just contemplate and dream.
Q: What is the most challenging thing about working at R&D?
A: We are continuously listening to our customers and brainstorming internally, which means that in a year we come up with hundreds of great ideas related to Acon products. Choosing the right ones and bringing them forward efficiently means that lots of good ideas, lots of love needs to be left behind.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about working at R&D?
A: Happiness at homes when kids use our creations in their backyards! That is why Acon exists!
Q: What is your favorite non-trampoline product?
A: Soccer ball. Apparently, billions of other people like it too.
Q: Has there been any wild ideas that never saw the daylight?
A: Lots of them. Although we never delete them but store them in our database. Maybe the time just hasn’t been quite right for them yet. Not too long ago a competing trampoline company had a fun April Fool’s Insta posts about 0-gravity trampoline. Just a month prior, we had actually discussed at Acon how such a thing could actually be implemented in practice. But we like the feel of Acon bounce even better so we’ll leave that stuff to NASA for now anyway.
Continuing Innovation at Acon
Q: Although the basic idea of the trampoline hasn’t changed much since its inception, trampolines have changed quite a lot since the very beginning. Where is the team exploring to take your thinking?
Bounce, Safety and Acon for Life will continue to be the core of our products upon which we will build the Acon experience. You will see Acon bounce at new heights this spring and at new environments with a twist a bit later! Stick with Acon also beyond 2022 as we have more excitement coming. There is so much more that we can do with trampolines and we plan to make it possible for our customers. I would love to talk more about it but for now I try to be quiet.
Q: What does the team do to listen/learn from jumpers in order to improve products?
A: Just about everything possible! We at Acon want to do what is best for our customers. And in order to know what is best, we have to talk to our customers and listen to them! Just earlier today we brought a busload of about 30 kids and parents into our Customer Engagement Center in Oulu Finland. The visitors had some great fun with our Scientists and Engineers, testing some exciting prototypes and discussing how they could be even better for the kids’ and parents’ needs.
We do this kind of stuff all the time. Next session is already in a couple of days. Besides having hundreds of regular trampoline users come tell us how to improve, we bring in the World’s best Gtrampoliners and trampoline gymnasts and also health and safety professionals. We visit trampoline parks and bounce fests. We arrange online surveys to reach a huge population. We call our existing customers and listen. We actually go visit them at their yards. We follow customer behavior online trends very closely. Our friendly and helpful customer service has Acon eyes and ears open to general public 24/7. We are extremely thankful for any feedback we get, good or bad, so that we can react accordingly. But yet, I am happy to hear from anyone if there are more ways to make sure we understand the needs of our customers better.
Q: At Acon, we often talk about leading design. How does the team work to come up with “what’s next” in trampoline technology?
A: We collaborate with and listen to the customer. We keep our eyes, ears and nose open. We stay abreast of technology, trends, other industries and competitive landscape. We have developed and acquired top talent and partners and plan to grow further. We continuously improve our way of doing things in R&D. But yet, at the core is compassion and respect for each other and raising the bar together while having fun!
Q: What’s one thing that may surprise readers about the way Acon comes up with new products?
A: We break everything we develop, often many times to truly understand how reliable our products are. If it breaks too easily, we go back to the drawing board!
Q: What makes Acon such a fun place to work/design?
A: Our work is extremely meaningful. I used to work in Medical Device industry where we tried to fix hearts. It was very rewarding. Yet working for Acon, I feel that I can work on something that makes kids and parents hearts happy! We are making the world a better place through fun and constructive childhood and youth activities! I’ve worked for many great companies but none of them have come close to the atmosphere at Acon. This company was founded and is led by people who genuinely care about other people. That was one of the key reasons why I joined Acon back in the day. I yet feel that my management and co-workers care about me and treat me with respect. They want me to succeed together with them. When this kind of respect happens inside Acon, I believe it translates to good products, results and Goodwill outside of Acon also!
Trampoline safety at ACON
Q: Safety is the top priority when it comes to developing any products at ACON. What kind of tests are done to new prototypes and final versions in practice?
A: All products go through very rigorous test battery of over hundred tests. Of course we do the EU and USA standard tests but that is just the beginning. I’ll give a few examples of the testing that we do:
- Structural integrity FEA computer analysis and physical tests
- Testing for pinching, scrapes and body member getting stuck
- How much load can be on a trampoline without bottoming out – recommended user weight
- How much weight is needed to tip a trampoline over
- Reliability in Outdoors: Corrosion, UV, Temperature, Wind tests
- Cycling reliability test (different machines for springs only and full trampoline)
- Long list of enclosure tests (how much impact can it take, is there any risk of falling etc.)
- Chemical safety tests (REACH, Proposition 65 etc.)
- Bounce tests with subjective user feedback and acceleration sensor data
Q: What is the most important safety feature in ACON trampolines (and why)?
A: Of course the enclosure as it prevents falling from high onto the ground. Besides that, the more I study it, the more I’m seeing the positive effect of a good, soft bounce! Soft trampoline is much more forgiving than a stiff trampoline.
Q: What makes it unsafe to jump with more than one person at a time?
A: If you are actually doing tricks, it is very important that only one person is on the mat at a time. If more are bouncing at a time, there are a couple obvious risks:
- uncontrolled landing due to the other person moving the mat and
- getting to heights that you are not trained to through boosting by another person.
All of the above risks are exacerbated when the weight difference of bouncers is great.
Q: Give your Top 3 tips towards trampoline safety.
A: Use a trampoline that is not too hard! Poor bouncing trampolines, some expensive Gtramps and springless ones, may seem safe at first glance. However, when kids bounce on them they realize that they are too stiff and tough on human joints. The mat of well bouncing tramps such as Acon gives in and significantly reduces the impact on body even if the landing is not perfect. We are talking ankle, knee, hip, spine, neck, wrist and so on here.
To highlight this: compare landing an unsuccessful flip on concrete vs. landing mat. Yup, even tough guys need soft landings in life 😊. I want to bring this up because while there have been several scientific studies on trampoline safety (we study them very carefully at Acon), the quality of bounce is always omitted as there is no standard for what a “good and healthy bounce” is. Hopefully there will be research on the trampoline safety with trampoline “softness” as one factor at some point!
Use trampoline with a sturdy enough enclosure to keep you from falling off the trampoline
If bouncing and doing flips; one person at a time on the mat. No boosting if you want to stay safe.
Towards even better bounces
Q: I am considering buying a trampoline for my kids. Why does the quality of the bounce matter?
A: Without good bounce, trampoline gets forgotten. It just isn’t so much fun. After you have been on a well bouncing trampoline, it is hard to get excited in subpar contraption. And vice versa, it’s hard for kids to leave the trampoline alone if the bounce is good. There is something pleasing about an easy, smooth bounce that still has guts! I go to our proto lab all the time to just bounce on the best ones just because it feels good 😊. I believe good bounce is also safer.
Q: What features should people look for when considering purchasing a trampoline?
A: Bounce, Safety, Reliability, Available accessories, Company reputation, Price
Q: ACON is known for Synergy Design. What does it mean?
A: The ACON system is more than just the sum of its components.
Q: Are there any new products or features that ACON customers would love to know about?
A: I have a full bean jar that I am not supposed to spill… But, well… We are close enough that I can mention that in the near future Acon bounce is getting even better!
Q: In your opinion, what makes ACON the best in the business?
A: We sincerely care about our customers and employees, do what is right and keep on raising the bar!
The ACON journey continues
Hope you enjoyed our little sneak peek behind the scenes! Follow our blog to see with whom do we have the delight to meet next!
If you want to learn more about our trampolines, you may enjoy the blog post about our trampoline enclosures. For more inspiration, see our top tips on how to do a backflip or read about 20 unique ideas for trampoline sleepovers – because owning an ACON can be so much more than ‘just jumping’!