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Top 5 Sports Tech News – Aug 2020

Welcome to the Top5SportsTechNews of August 2020. In this interesting period, we curated five outstanding startups that have identified and are filling the gaps with their forward thinking solutions.

It’s that time again where we share with everyone the interesting news, events and developments happening in the sports tech world. I might have said it before in some form but I will say it again: it is amazing how this year has panned out and it is even more amazing that with all the curve balls this year has thrown at us people continue to innovate and make good things happen. Sure, there will be the naysayers and the doubters. But let’s just focus on the good and positive because surely that will prevail at the end of the day. In this edition of #top5sportstechnews, it’s interesting that we find five products/startups that all focus on mobile solutions. They are mobile in a sense that they are accessed on mobile devices (smartphones & tablets). They are mobile in a portable way and not restricted by location. They are mobile in a way that they keep physical distancing possible but still keep people connected in meaningful ways. I hope you enjoy =>

BlueZone Systems Repurposes Sales Productivity Platform For Better Athlete Management

BlueZone Systems was initially conceived with the mission of helping sales team become more successful. They have built a web platform that allows goals and objectives to be set for each sales person in the team and build an action plan with activities that match each individual’s selling behaviour. As they carry out the plan and work towards those goals, they can track their progress and review it regularly so they can see where the wins are and where improvements are needed. There are also features built with the individuals and teams in mind to keep everyone inspired and motivated to keep going.

As the Covid pandemic unfolded this year, social distancing rules and restrictions meant that there are limitations to how sports teams can conduct trainings. Lack of face-to-face meetings with team mates and coaches could have a negative impact on an athlete’s morale, motivation and even overall well-being. The team at BlueZone Systems quickly identified that their platform could easily fill this need of keeping sports teams motivated and accountable while distanced. So they redesigned the platform and made the necessary tweaks so it became relevant to sports teams, athletes and coaches. There are the four key pieces including: 1) allow coaches to set team and athlete goals, 2) build action plans, 3) track daily performance and 4) keep the athletes inspired and motivated. The good thing about the platform is the focus isn’t just on skills training and performance but on ensuring that the athlete becomes a well-rounded individual. That means building character, strengthening team relationships, mental well-being and so on. Coaches can customise goals and action plans for individual athletes and there are reports and tools to help coaches identify athletes who need extra support and provide it. There are more details in their demo here: link or check out their intro video below:

Gloria App Is Building A Better Football Community & Streamlining Talent Identification

Whether you call it football or soccer, it doesn’t quite matter. What matters is there are a LOT of people in the world playing the sport, watching the game, inspired by the players, dreaming of winning, and training hard to be the best they can be. FIFA did a ‘Big Count survey‘ back in early 2000 and the numbers show almost 250 million people around the world regularly play football. That was almost 20 years ago and considering the last World Cup (2018) had 3.572 billion people watching (either on their TV at home, on digital platforms or out of their homes), it is not too crazy to say maybe half a billion people in the world play the game. And I am pretty sure a good percentage of the younger generation playing hopes to become professional and make it big someday. But even with all the right skills, flair and perhaps even great character, how does one get known and picked by a club or talent scout?

Gloria is a startup that aims to equip the next generation of talented football players with the tool/s to set them up for success. One simple “tool” is something most (if not all) young people will be very familiar with – capturing videos on their smart phone. Here’s a brief run through of how the Gloria app could be used:: an up and coming football player creates a player bio on the app with some important information. Based on the player profile, the app would recommend five different videos the player should create to showcase their strengths. This plus some smart algorithms to analyse and categorise the videos, give talent scouts an easier way to review and identify talents. Technically speaking, this means equal access and opportunities. Beyond scouting, there is a huge emphasis on community building. Anyone who is passionate about football can jump onto the app. Gloria has a vision of bringing all the community football content onto a common platform. No more segregation by clubs or brands or leagues. Just good football content. One other fun thing they added is challenges. Everyone loves a bit of challenge and there’s always someone who wants to prove they can do it better. Again, it’s all football related and it’s all for good clean fun. They are currently doing beta tests, refining features based on feedback and quickly gaining momentum. Whether you are player, club manager, coach, scout, or simply enjoy the game, all are welcome to sign up here to trial the app. In the meantime, listen to Victoire Cogevina, the co-founder explain the story of Gloria here (link) or simply check out their little promo video below:

Quell’s Gauntlet Wearable Turns Their Adventure Game Into A Real Workout

Home workouts has been quite the feature this year because most of us are spending a lot more time at home while gyms and group training sessions have been paused. We have covered a few products previously and they include Tempo, Straffr, MoonRun, just to name a few. Some common traits between them are: 1) there is some form of sensor that tracks movement and thus quantifies the workout , 2) there is some level of interaction between the user and the software in the form of feedback or guidance, 3) they motivate the user to stay on the training routine with some form of gamification. On the last point of gamification, it loosely connects to gaming as in there are design elements in their platform that relate to gaming. This could be achieving goals, getting rewards or points and being able to compete with others or be part of a team/group on the same platform. But the focus is usually more on the workout.

Quell is a fitness gaming startup that has developed an adventure gaming platform that also gives its players a real workout. What that means is they have designed a proper game with characters, villians, landscapes, and stories and quests, designed with 3D graphics. The main equipment/controller for playing the game is a wearable harness and gloves, or what they term the Gauntlet Wearable. There are kind of two main parts to the Gauntlet. One is the resistance part – the harness and gloves act as anchor points on the player’s shoulders and wrists. and two resistance bands connects them on each side of the player. So when a punch is executed, the player is basically stretching the resistance band on the punching arm which requires much more effort than air punches. Players have the option of swapping to higher resistance bands if they want to have a harder workout. The second part is the motion tracking – sensors are secured on each glove to track every punch, block, dodge etc and captures metrics like speed, acceleration and accuracy. The game will be launched on PC, Mac and mobile. At the moment it is being crowdfunded on Kickstarter and they have already passed their goal. There is plenty of information on the Kickstarter page or check out their promo video below:

Uplift Coach Is Lifting The Game In Remote Coaching

What happens when coaches cannot train in person with their athletes? They have to rely on technology in some way. They could do FaceTime or Zoom or other group video conferencing calls to run live sessions. During live sessions, coaches could provide instructions either by demonstrating it themselves or sharing a video. Athletes watch and try to learn and follow them, and after that receive feedback from the coaches. Alternatively, coaches could pre-record videos, edit and annotate so that its concise, then send it to the athletes. If required, athletes then record their tasks and send it back to the coach for feedback. Everything gets done in a non-live back and forth manner in everyone’s own time. There just seems to be a better way to do this.

Uplift Capture – motion capture using just the camera

Uplift Labs was started with the vision of improving human movement performance using technology. Part of that can be achieved using analytics derived from video and AI-powered technology. Then with the current pandemic exposing a need for better remote coaching tools, they fast tracked Uplift Coach – an app that is purpose built for remote sports coaching/training. There are features that make it easier for coaches to run live sessions and communicate with athletes, like efficiently sharing video content on the fly, “Spotlight” an athlete in the group while the rest watch, and annotation tools for live feedback. But there are even more exciting features in the roadmap which sounds like they might integrate motion sensor data collected live from athletes and/or 3D motion capture using just the iPhone camera. Read more about it here: link or simply check out their video below:

HitCheck Facilitates Baseline Assessments While Social Distancing

For sports that are looking ahead (optimistically) and planning for face-to-face training sessions, there will be some (if not lots of) preparation and considerations to make sure that athletes, coaches and sports professionals are kept safe with public health guidelines, good hygiene practices and accountability. Then for sports where athletes have a risk of concussion, there is an additional consideration – baseline testing or assessment. The purpose of doing a baseline assessment is to have a measure of an athlete’s healthy brain function before the season starts. Then in the event of a concussion during the season, the baseline measure can be used as a comparison to help healthcare professionals make better informed decisions about return to sport.

HitCheck has developed a mobile tool that allow athletes to do baseline assessments anywhere using their mobile phones. The assessment takes less than 10 minutes and is based on standardised concussion testing methods. It comprises nine interactive game-inspired tests that measure neurological functions known to be impacted by brain injuries, such as short term memory, balance, coordination, visual memory, impulse control, long term memory, reaction time, problem solving and colour recognition. Coaches and administrators will have access to the baseline measures and be able to monitor athletes who have injuries as the season commences. Read more about how the University of Portland is utilising the app to safely manage about 300 of their athletes here: link; also learn more about the HitCheck app in the video below:

And that is our top five sports tech news for August 2020. If you would like more information about any of the above, or if something sparked an idea and you would like to chat about it, 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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