The Breakroom

Making of the 7R Mobile App

November 23, 2015

By Cheryl Cicha

7R is short for DRD4-7R, a gene associated with the hunger to explore. Also known as the “adventure gene,” some scientist claim people with this gene are more likely to embrace change and novelty, explore new places and take risks.

Suunto – a leading designer and manufacturer of sports instruments – approached us to develop their 7R App for iOS. The goal was to enhance the experience for owners of the soon to be released World Collection. The 7R app pairs with the adventure and travel watch Suunto Kailash named after the soaring 22,000 foot mass of black rock in Tibet that has never been climbed.


Iconfactory was approached by Suunto to design and develop a mobile app that enabled Kailash owners to visualize and share their journeys based on the vast amounts of data collected by the watch. Via the app, users have their complete travel logbook at their fingertips, get notifications and can adjust the watch on the go. A unique timeline pulls photos from the camera roll and softly merges them with a dynamic world map allowing them to see where they were travelling in the world along with the photos they took at that moment.

The first and biggest challenge the Iconfactory development team faced was communicating with the watch over Bluetooth while several versions of the hardware and firmware were still in development. This often meant determining whether Bluetooth errors were in the integration library, the watch firmware, the hardware, or in the application’s code was tricky. Solving these problems required in depth knowledge of the Bluetooth stack, custom debugging code, and a bespoke library written to monitor and track conversations with the device, as well as constant communication with the teams involved in Finland.

Once these initial hurdles were overcome, the app was able to sync with Kailash and utilize data. We would have loved nothing more than to test the app in an adventure around the world, but ultimately settled for limited to trips to the grocery store. Ultimately, the Suunto sales force carried early prototypes of the watch with them as they travelled providing valid test data.

With the challenges of remote teams in vastly different time zones, here are just a few of the best practices we used to ensure the app was feature complete and shipped on time.

  • Weekly meetings with the client, Account Manager, Lead Designer and Development team kept everyone involved and moving forward with visibility into progress.
  • The Product Owner responsible for the success of the app responded quickly to email with detailed answers, which kept the feedback loops for communication short. This was critical when iterating on involved features like the Timeline.
  • Constant visual refinement so that the app shared the aesthetic of the Suunto brand, which is reflected in all aspects of the UI and icon design. To see some of the early wireframes, see our portfolio.
  • Lead developers had direct access to technical resources in the other time zones, which made working through challenges or getting answers to question much quicker.
  • A public Trello board for communicating status in near real time allowed anyone on the team to quickly assess the product status and provide detailed feedback from any time zone.

Designing and developing the 7R app was fraught with unknowns but was a challenge we thoroughly enjoyed. If curiosity drives you forward and you thrive on discovery you might belong to the few who possess the adventure gene, 7R. To find out, download the free Suunto 7R app for iOS from the App Store now.