We are almost halfway through the year and its definitely a year like no other. So many things have changed and what we knew as normal (face to face meetings, weekly sporting activities, training and competitions) might already feel like a distant past because we haven’t done it for months. As we embrace the new virtual activities that are happening more on a day to day basis, more and more creative ideas that thrive in such an environment are popping up. Ideas that allow athletes’ wellness to be managed better, that help skills to be improved remotely and training to be done better, and funds that promote more of those ideas. Those ideas may have been brewing for a while and possibly waiting for such a moment or maybe they are taking this opportunity to take broader steps forward. We bring you some of those ideas in this month’s top 5 below.
Wahoo Launches Next Gen Heart Rate Sensors
Wahoo is a sports and fitness tech company that develops products for cycling and running. I remember the first time I came across them, they had the 30 pin ANT+ dongle/key for the iPhone 4/4s so that bike sensors or heart rate straps that use ANT+ can connect to the iPhone. They had their own Wahoo fitness app and also provided APIs for developers who want to build apps using the ANT+ key. That was just the start and as many would know, they now have lots of products from bike computers to trainers to cycling sensors and heart rate straps. Their Bluetooth heart rate strap is probably one of their earlier products after the ANT+ key. Then shortly after they came up with heart rate straps/sensors that work on Bluetooth as well as ANT+ so they could connect with devices that have either protocol. That was the TICKR series of heart rate sensors which had three versions – 1) TICKR, the normal heart rate monitor strap, 2) TICKR Run, which has sensors to track running metrics and 3) TICKR X, which has similar sensors but also tracks certain exercises and counts reps.
Just recently, they launched the next generation of their TICKR heart rate sensors with a bunch of improvements and features. They no longer have three versions but have two: just the TICKR and TICKR X. Some of the design improvements include having the LEDs pointing upwards instead of outwards, longer battery life, and the ability to have 3 Bluetooth connections simultaneously. For the TICKR X, it does running metrics such as cadence, ground contact time and vertical oscillation and it now has 50 hours of memory. Also, for athletes on the ANT+ ecosystem, TICKR X has included ANT+ running dynamics. For those who want to learn more about the sensors, you should check out DCRainmaker’s in-depth review here: link or check out the video below by GPLama:
Actimet Secures Funding To Further Develop Their Athlete Monitoring System
Actimet is an athlete monitoring system that aims to do two things: 1) Simplify training session information transfers between a coach and their athletes, and 2) Ensure athletes can easily upload session and wellness data. It all started in 2017, where they were seeing how coaches were meddling with athletes’ data (things like wellness, readiness to play, training load etc) on excel while communicating via text and sometimes getting athletes to manually fill up information on a whiteboard. So with a team of three people, they built a mobile app where athletes can input their data which goes to a backend and can be assessed by the coach or club management team via a web portal. One important key to the mobile app is it must be simple to use. Through lots of user research, the Actimet team found that athletes won’t want to enter their data/values onto an app if it was a chore. So simple to use means 10 seconds to put in wellness related information and no more than 25 seconds to put training load data. Then on the coaches’ end (web portal), the dashboard is easy to navigate with a traffic light system – “green” for athletes that are doing alright and “red” for athletes that need more rest or attention. On top of that, there are some really useful features for coaches such as the ability to monitor multiple teams & different sports, a “watchlist” to monitor certain athletes, and communication and training scheduling tools that ensure accountability.
Interestingly, the founding team initially thought that the solution they designed would suit amateur to semi-professional teams/clubs but later found professional teams liking their solution as well (because its simple to use). At the moment, Actimet has over 150 clients in different parts of the world and mainly English speaking countries. Recently, they have acquired funding that will allow them to develop their product further and reach more markets. Some short term plans include adding menstrual cycle tracking for female athletes and also translating the app to Spanish so it expands their reach to Spanish speaking countries. Other longer-term plans include integrating data from devices such as heart rate and possibly GPS or athlete tracking data. It’s all pretty exciting. You can find out more about Actimet on their website: link, or check out their explainer video below:
Pace Doctor Is Helping Make Fast Bowlers Better
Are you a bowler struggling with a back injury, or finding it hard to swing the ball, or need more pace or maybe bowl with a doubtful bowling action? For anyone who is in that position and scratching their heads on how they could get better (especially if they are facing restrictions), Pace Doctor has come up with the almost perfect solution.
Pace Doctor was founded by Marc Portus who has had over 20 years of experience as a cricket biomechanist with time spent at the Australian Institute of Sport, Cricket Australia as well as consulting for the International Cricket Council. He brought together two other specialists including T.A. Sekar, a specialist advisor with extensive experience in pace coaching from India, and Patrick Farhart, a specialist advisor in assessing and managing musculoskeletal injury in elite cricketers. All three of them are passionate about cricket, experts in their areas and still actively practising and learning through research. So as a team, they aim to be the world’s most trusted source of knowledge that is backed by research and practical know-how for the development and coaching of fast bowlers. They want to help every bowler become the best fast bowler that they can be, and one way of doing that is by offering their analysis services online.
How do they do that? For each type of analysis, they provide clear filming guidelines for bowlers to film their own bowling action – the angles to film, the camera modes and the number of deliveries for each angle. They also recommend bowlers to bowl at match intensity during filming. Once the video is captured, athletes can submit the video files with their order and the Pace Doctor team will complete the analysis and prepare a report within 2-7 days depending on the type of analysis ordered. There are a total of six different analyses at the moment – “The Club Quick”, “Swing The Ball”, “Bowl Faster”, “Back Injury Risk”, “Illegal Action”, and “The HP Quick”. Every one of the analyses were well thought out and targeted to solve specific needs. But if there is something else a bowler/coach may need, they can always contact the team to work out a custom analysis. Find out more about Pace Doctor’s services here: link, and here’s a video of Dennis Lillee bowling and it is his story which inspires the work of Pace Doctor today:
ANTA Sports Award To Stimulate Research On Next-Gen Sports Science Technology.
ANTA Sports is one of the largest sportswear brands in China. They started back in 1994 and has since grown by leaps and bounds, not only acquiring other major sports brands such as Fila in China but also gaining more exposure through outfitting Chinese Olympians and becoming sponsors of well-known athletes such as Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors) and Manny Pacquiao (Boxer) amongst others. One thing they have also invested in is sports science and innovation. It was in 2005 that they first established their sports science lab in China. Then in 2017, they created the Launch Innovation Team who are made up of Sports Scientists, Engineers, Chemists, Developers and Designers from an international background put together to disrupt the sports world. They recognise that innovation doesn’t come from one secluded field of study but instead is found in a multidisciplinary environment.
A few months back, Anta announced that they are sponsoring a research grant worth €20,000 in association with the European College of Sport Science (ECSS). The goal of it is to stimulate research on next-generation sports science technology so as to uncover insights in sports performance and injury prevention. Some of the areas of interest include sensor technologies, data science in sports, sports technologies focused on female athletes, and wearable footwear technologies.
Sports science and technology research students are encouraged to submit a proposal if they are working in any of the above areas or anything related to sports performance and injury prevention. The deadline for submitting the proposal has been moved back to 31st August 2020 and four finalists would be selected to present their proposals at the 25th Annual European College of Sport Science (ECSS) Congress 2020. The winner will also be announced at the same event happening in Sevilla, Spain from 28-30 Oct 2020. Read more about the research grant/award and the requirements here: link.
Kiksense Evaluates Karate Moves With Wearable Sensors
Kiksense is a startup working on a wearable solution for karate training and evaluation. Started by a family passionate about karate, they noticed multiple challenges in growing the sport, especially with the next generation. Students were getting bored (or not motivated), coaches were getting overwhelmed, it was difficult to monitor training and performance and come tournament time, judging and keeping score isn’t the easiest task. The solution that Kiksense is coming up with is a wearable sensor system made up of four IMUs worn on the wrists and ankles. The system would have recorded various punches and kicks performed by the sensei (or coach) while wearing the sensors. Then when a student puts on the sensors and starts practising the same punches and kicks, the system will evaluate their movements and determine if those punches met the ‘standard’ set by the sensei. It not only allows for isolation training, but I can also see how the interface could be gamified to make it a fun experience for students. In terms of the tracking, there definitely has to be a lot of data crunching and intelligence put in there to profile and identify the different moves. The Kiksense team has even patented their approach which we can find here: link.
Besides using the wearable sensors for evaluating practice and monitoring training sessions, they could also potentially be used for scoring purposes during competitions. Instead of solely relying on the judges’ keen eyes, the sensors could add an objective measure to the moves and turns. As far as I know, there aren’t any other combat sports wearables in the market that are evaluating and comparing movements the same way and using four wearable sensors. So this would be an interesting one to watch out for. At the moment, it looks they haven’t put out any release dates yet but I am sure you can reach out to them on their website to express interest. In the meantime, you can read more about how their wearables work on their FAQ here: link, or check out their demo video below:
And that is our top five sports tech news for May 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!