In the summer of 2015 I was planning a rubber boat ride with my friends. Like everybody does in Munich in summer: get into the rubber boat a few kilometers outside of Munich and drift back into the city until the evening.
For a relaxed afternoon on the river, besides the waterproof boombox and the cold beer there was only one thing missing: decent water guns for me and my friends.
The water gun: status symbol of the 1990s kids
In my search for a decent water gun, the memories from my childhood in the 1990s were driving me. As soon as the sun came out and the temperature went above 15°C, the boys and me were roaming the gardens and back yards of our neighborhood.
The technology behind our water guns was the topic of endless discussions back then. If today many men discuss motor power and luxury features, we were discussing the pressure and range of our water guns. From the Super Soaker 50 to the Super Soaker CPS 2500, we were always looking for the next more powerful model.
Water guns and what you could do with them in the 1990s.
What had happened to water guns since the 1990s?
In my imagination, a lot of good things had happened in the past 20 years. High-quality electronics were so much cheaper today. The development possibilites sped up the product cycles massively, that's what I knew from the automobile industry, where I was working by now. And after two decades in which I hadn't paid attention to the entire topic, I expected enormous progress in today's water guns.
Instead I found – nothing. The global water gun market had hardly moved in the past 20 years. I could not believe it: there was no development, and even worse – all water guns had become cheap plastic toys.
Was there no one who would enjoy a really good water gun anymore?
Water fights needed a level-up
My friends agreed completely. They also could not understand why there were no good water guns anymore. Having grown up with daily summer water fights too, it would have been so much fun to have a decent water gun for our rubber boat ride.
But if things don't exist, you have to step up to the plate and do the job yourself.
How hard can building a water gun be?
With my experience in prototyping I started some experiments with self-assembled water guns while still working as a product designer at BMW. In the evening after coming home from work I was sitting in my small apartment, trying to combine mechanical parts from old water guns with new electronics that a friend and me had programmed ourselves.
Of course, there were some struggles. It's not hard to imagine: if you work with water and pressure, some rooms of my apartment were bound to get completely wet. And everyone including myself was who was building this prototype was also soaked one or two times.
At some point, indoors experiments were banned by our roommates. I wonder why?
Slowly getting there: the first water gun prototype
For days and nights, I worked on the technology. It was not always easy to keep believing in the idea. When winter was coming, snow was falling, everyone got in the mood of Christmas, my heater broke down, and I was still working on this crazy water gun idea, I asked myself, “why am I doing this again?!”
But slowly and surely, my idea became reality. In April 2016, we had finished building the first prototype and successfully tested it. Electronically controlled, it already shot with an astonishing precision at the push of a button.
Now that the technical and physical feasibility of the vision was proved, I began to think about a decisive question: how to proceed? Should the ultimate water gun remain a private project or would a high-tech water gun be something that others would also be excited about?
Team Spyra: getting some crazy water gun nerds on board
By now I knew that I could not do this alone if I wanted to do it for real. It would take a strong team to build the best water gun in the world.
That’s when I quit my well-paid job and started looking for fellow water gun enthusiasts who believed in a market for a really great water gun.
Very scientific water gun tests in Summer 2017.
In retrospect, that was the best decision. I actually found people crazy enough to believe in the idea. And here we are today. After two years of development our final prototype is ready.
We have built several generations of prototypes, always improving from generation to generation, we have asked you to test the Spyra One and tell us your ideas, we were published in one of the biggest German newspapers and we won many more team members that are working with us.