News & Events Sports Technology

Top 5 Sports Tech News – March 2020

It's March and things have already shifted really quickly for 2020. More people are staying home and not travelling. This opens doors for technologies that enable people to still do sports on their own or participate in events online and do it well.

The trending words (globally) for March 2020 seem to be “isolation”, “social/spatial distancing”, and “stay home”. Those words usually don’t go terribly well with typical sporting events or most competitive sports activities. But that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Especially when it comes to technologies, there are lots of innovations that still allow activities to happen while staying home. So for this #top5sportstechnews, we bring you events, product news and future product launches that are pretty aligned with the theme of the month. Let’s dive in.

Vald Health Launches TeleHab – A Free Online Exercise Prescription Platform

Vald Performance is the sports technology company that has brought us the Nordbord, GroinBar and ForceFrame amongst a few other devices and systems that does athlete performance testing. They recently branched out to form Vald Health, to focus on the allied health market (Physio, Osteo, Chiro etc). A number of their athlete performance products can also be found under the Vald Health brand simply because those same technologies works well in an allied health setting. On top of those hardware devices, they have just launched an online exercise prescription platform called TeleHab. Its a platform for clinicians to create custom rehabilitation programs with instructional videos for their clients and the clients in turn can record their home rehab sessions with the app to capture their progress. The clinician then reviews the client’s recording and provides the neccessary feedback. Here’s an example: link. The most exciting thing about the TeleHab platform is it’s free to download and use. This is very timely as many clinicians are moving towards telehealth options. Find out more about the TeleHab platform on their website: link; also check out their explainer video below:

TeleHab

Jacquard, adidas and EA Produces A Connected Boot That Challenges Friends Virtually In A Game

Jacquard or Project Jacquard was a Google initiative where they looked at integrating technology into everyday apparel. Part of that involved weaving conductive threads into the fabric so that when a user taps or slides on the fabric, they are interacting with a connected device. They also made sensor electronics that were small enough to be hidden into clothing. Their earlier collaborations included fashion brands such as Levi’s and Saint Laurent.

Now using the same sensor tag, they have partnered with adidas and EA Sports to create a virtual soccer game. Dubbed the football GMR pack, users can purchase a sensor Tag with insoles of their size that houses the Tag. They then download the EA Sports FIFA mobile app and the adidas GMR app to pair/connect the Tag. With the Tag in the insole and inserted into their shoes/boots, they can start playing and completing challenges on the FIFA app. We won’t go into the gaming aspects but essentially as a user completes challenges by practising penalty shots or jogging or sprinting, those activities get tracked by the Tag. Users then gain points based on how well they did, which help level up their virtual player. I might be speaking too soon but this looks like proper gamification of actual football training, which I believe is achieved with experts in three different fields coming together. Of course, not to forget, another key benefit of this product is: it can be done while in isolation! Find out more on their website: link or check out their promo video below:

FastPong Enables A Better Way To Do Table Tennis Training

FastPong Training Board With Ball Trainer

FastPong is a startup that developed a table tennis training system that provides real-time visual feedback, quantifies performance and recommends a training program based on the data collected. Amir Kamandi, the founder of FastPong, was a national table tennis player, and while exploring a better way to improve his skills, went into the research of visual stimuli training. He conducted a study comparing a group of athletes doing visual stimuli training versus a control group of athletes (that did their usual training); the outcome was the group that did visual stimuli training improved more in terms of accuracy and decision making. [More details of the study can be found in his research poster: link]

FastPong

In the process of doing the research, Amir Kamandi also developed FastPong. The hardware of the system includes a flat panel (or Training Board) and a Sensor that attaches to any ball training machine. The Training Board has LEDs that relays the training program or sequence where the ball should land, and it is touch-sensitive so it tracks where the ball actually landed. A SmartPhone running the app can also be placed on the table to record the session so that a coach can review the training session remotely. That means, with FastPong, even though an athlete might be training alone, they get real-time feedback, they get their performance tracked over time and they can get additional guidance from the app as well as their coach. They have plans to launch the product in June this year (assuming things go as planned) starting with a small batch of 50. So for those who are interested, they should get in quick and stay informed on their website. In the meantime, have a look at their promo video below:

Hype Launches Virtual Sports Accelerators

Hype Sports Innovation

Hype Sports Innovation is a sports business with a strong focus on helping sports technology startups take their ideas to market and scale up at an international level. They do that by first establishing a global ecosystem including major sports brands, athletic clubs, federations, and research institutes around the world. Then by organising sports accelerator programs in different regions with strategic partners (including 1.FC Koln, Loughborough University, Swedish Olympic Committee, IAPS Taiwan, New York University etc), they invite sports startups to apply for those programs where they have the opportunity to build on their ideas while leveraging on that global sports ecosystem. Some of the startup alumni include Shot Scope Technologies, Komodo Monitr, Kitman Labs and Sci Sports.

Since Hype started their global sports accelerators back in 2017, they previously required startup participants to plant themselves in those partner locations for a typical period of three months. But they have recently moved into a more virtual format so that startups can still participate wherever they are. Hype is currently running three accelerator programs which are fully virtual or mainly virtual with minimal onsite visits. They include:

  • HYPE SPIN® Accelerator Taiwan (link) – can be largely virtual with up to three on sites.
  • HYPE SPIN® Virtual Accelerator Loughborough (UK) (link) – 100% virtual program with a focus on sustainability, customisation, and social impact.
  • HYPE VIRTUAL ACCELERATOR (link) – virtual program focused on Fundraising & COVID19 new gameplan

In case you this is the first time you have come across Hype Sports Innovation, have a look at their promo video:

International Sports Engineering Conference Is Going Online And It’s Free!

The International Sports Engineering Association (ISEA) runs a sports engineering conference every two years. The next one which is the thirteenth (The Engineering of Sport 13) was meant to be taking place in Tokyo, Japan in June 2020 and the significance was that it would coincide with the year of the Olympics and Paralympics that is meant to happen in 2020. But with everything that has happened in the world where isolation is the safest thing and could prevent the spreading of viruses, physical events are postponed or cancelled. Fortunately, the organisers of the 13th Sports Engineering Conference (Tokyo Institute of Technology) have made it a virtual/cyber event so researchers who have submitted their papers can still present their work to fellow colleagues working in the field. Registrations are now open (link) and the organisers have kindly made it a FREE event so anyone who has an interest can ‘attend’ and learn more about the interesting research and developments in sports engineering from around the world.

Important Dates: The conference takes place from 22nd to 25th June and the website says registration closes after 5th June.

For those who are interested in Sports Engineering research, they should definitely check out the ISEA website to find out the research opportunities available and events happening globally (an example was the Special Topics in Sports Engineering 2018).

And that is our top five sports tech news for March 2020. If you would like more information about any of the above, feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. If you enjoy our content, please do us a favour and share it around or subscribe to our blog/newsletter here: link. Thanks for reading!

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