This edition of Top 5 features 5 different sports tech startups that are breaking ground in their own ways. As many would know, startups are the ones that identify gaps, challenge status quo and push boundaries. They might find opportunities because of improved technologies. Or they might be taking technologies from one field and applying it to another. Or they could be pushing for an application that has not been thought feasible before. Or they could simply be taking on a difficult challenge that few/none has dared ventured into. Or it could be a combination of all those things that led a startup to do what they do. So without further delay, here’s our Top 5 =>
Hydrogen Sports Is Making A Better Tennis Ball Machine
Here’s the story: the founder of Hydrogen Sports while taking a sabbatical, decided to brush up on his tennis skills. He picked up a tennis ball machine on craigslist and quickly realised it was really painful to use. Specifically, it was bulky and not user friendly for someone who wants to practice on their own. He decided to do something about it. 3 years and several prototypes later, “The Proton” was developed.
One of the key difference in his design was the use of much lighter yet higher performance components. For example, lithium ion batteries and brushless motors (similar to the ones used in drones). This significantly reduced the weight and size while achieving similar performance to other ball machines in terms of ball speed and spin. But what really sets it apart is its smartphone interface (the iPhone app) that allow users to easily adjust training settings and manage practice routines.
As of writing this, their first batch of pre-order is sold out. Those who missed out can still get onto their wait list here. They estimate that the first batch would be delivered in summer of 2020. The initial batch is only available in the US due to electrical regulations. There are plans to expand to other regions but that might take a bit longer. In the meantime, check out their intro video below:
MX3 Diagnostics Want To Help Teams Manage Hydration Better
MX3 Diagnostics came about because they identified an unmet need in sports:- there was no proper and easy way to measure the hydration level of an athlete in the field; and being able to accurately detect dehydration and address it in a timely manner could allow an athlete to maintain their performance and prevent potential injuries/health risks.
MX3 approached that need by taking a proven medical technology and transferring that to sports. What was developed is a handheld diagnostic tool that allows a sports scientist or coach to do a saliva test on athletes (as seen in the above pic). This way of testing, known as salivary osmolarity (SOSM) testing, has been proven to be a reliable marker of hydration status and studies have shown that it is more accurate than urine testing.
Their current main product, the MX3 LAB Pro System is developed with teams in mind. It is capable of handling and managing large volumes of athlete testing efficiently. For teams that monitor athlete hydration using urine testing and/or weight measurements and manually recording those measurements, the MX3 system would not only improve the measurement accuracy, it would save them lots of time. They have recently partnered with the IRONMAN Oceania Series as their official hydration diagnostics partner. This is truly fitting considering that the IRONMAN is on average a 12 hour event and being able to track an athlete’s hydration level could make a huge difference. Read more about their partnership here: MX3 Diagnostics in partnership with IRONMAN Oceania Series
FLEX Wants To Provide Accurate Barbell Performance Tracking To Individuals
Velocity Based Training or VBT as it is commonly known is essentially about measuring load/effort using velocity; then using that measure to inform training decisions. For the past many years, GymAware has been considered the ‘gold standard’ for measuring velocity of barbells and implementing VBT. The GymAware system was designed for elite teams and it is able to track, monitor and manage many athletes and their different training profiles. But it is too elaborate (and not to mention expensive) for the individual. So the team that built GymAware went back to the drawing board and redesigned a new product from the ground up that is suitable for the individual. Thus FLEX was created.
The FLEX sensor is a wireless and highly portable device that is attached to the end of a barbell. It uses a laser optic array to track velocity and they recommend that athletes use it together with the reflective mat for
greater greatest accuracy. The sensor works together with an iPhone app for now (with an Android version on their roadmap). Besides being a stand alone use device, it also has the capability of being an add-on to an existing GymAware system. This would work well for athletes who are part of a team or sports institute, and need something for when they travel for international competitions or training. To see an overview of how it works, check out their promo video below:
One Giant Leap Is Helping Paddlers Know Their Power
The sport of sprint kayaking is pretty technical and challenging. At any one time, the paddler is maintaining balance, coordinating pushing and pulling of their arms and legs, while trying to optimise the power output so that the kayak is gliding forward effectively. But how do they know what is their power output? That’s what One Giant Leap wanted to solve with their Kayak Power Meter. Almost 10 years ago, 2 engineers took on the challenge when the New Zealand kayaking team needed a means to measure their athletes’ power output. It worked out really well. So the pair formed a startup, launched the product and started to work with kayak teams around the world.
As with introducing any new product category into the market, it is always challenging. People are unsure of the benefits vs cost as they haven’t used it (or anything like it) or know other people who have used it. The closest familiar thing might be the bike power meter. But even that (reference) is a stretch because the bike power measurement is so much more straightforward compared to kayak power. Nevertheless, the founders persisted and until today, I believe they are the only Kayak Power Meter in the market. Not only that, they have progress and developed the Kayak Power Meter Gen 2 which comes with wireless charging and also a higher spec version that collects high speed data. So kudos to the One Giant Leap team!
Here’s a story about them teaming up with the Australian kayak team: Small Nelson-built device making big waves in kayaking world. Also, if you are interested to learn how it works, check out their explainer video below:
Corner Wearable Has Started To Provide Real-Time Stats In Boxing Competitions
The idea of using technology in boxing competitions has been floating around for some time. The motivation behind it includes improving the objectivity of scoring, providing better and more accurate statistics which could improve fan engagement and potentially prevent head concussions (if impact sensors were used). A couple of technology solutions have been looked at or used before. Compubox is one that has been widely used. It is not based on any wearable sensor though, just manual tracking via two operators/analysts – one for each competitor.
Recently, Corner, a boxing wearable startup partnered with the Russian Boxing Federation to measure performance data of competitors during the AIBA Men’s World Championships 2019.
There is no mention of whether the sensor data were used for scoring or what specific metrics were tracked. But looking at STATISPORT/Corner’s social media account, we can see that they were tracking number of punches, punch types, speed, and workrate. Whether it becomes a standard means to track boxing competitions or not remains to be seen. For now, we know the potential is there and it is achievable. Read more in AIBA’s news: New technologies will be presented at AIBA World Boxing Championships 2019.
[Related Post: Using Wearable Sensors In Combat Sports]
And that is our top five sports tech news for September 2019. If you would like more information about any of the above, feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. If you like what you read, please do us a favour and share it around or subscribe to our blog/newsletter here: link. As always, thanks for reading!