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Top 5 Sports Tech News – Closing 2020

Congrats to everyone who made it past 2020! It's been a challenging year and hopefully we could still take something positive out of it. With this last Top5 of 2020, I think the key theme is levelling the playing field. You can find out more below.

So we have truly come to the end of 2020. It may be the end of THE year but it is not the end of all our challenges. In fact, for most of us, the fight against the pandemic goes on in varying degrees across the world. Some have had it much tougher than others while some were less affected in comparison. In any case, the whole world has definitely felt a tangible nudge because of this pandemic, and I believe everyone is continuing their efforts to manage it while figuring out how global activities can happen safely going forward. I have probably said this before but I will say it again: kudos to all the sports organisations who have shifted, adjusted and pivoted to make things work for themselves and for others. In this last top 5 sports tech news for 2020, we bring you these 5 innovations that caught our attention in the last couple of months and some even earlier. There is a new wearable sensor that is a bit different and has a pretty grounded approach. Then there is sort of a common theme in the rest where they are trying to level the playing field – bringing their design and technology to a wider audience, being more inclusive or considering the underserved (at least that is my perspective). Anyhow, here is our last top 5 of 2020 =>

Metrica Sports Launches Free Plan For Video Analysis

Metrica Sports is a sports tech company that started back in 2014 by three friends who are passionate about football. They realised at that time that though there were lots of data available to football teams, the clubs weren’t doing anything much with that data. After further discussion and exploration, the three friends figured that with their expertise and background (artificial intelligence, data analysis, machine learning, UX design & video production), combined with their passion for football, they could come up with a video data analysis solution for clubs of all levels – from grassroots to top elite clubs. Their core (user facing) product is called Metrica Play which is a software that can be installed on Mac and Windows. It is supported by a cloud database (Metrica Cloud) which stores the videos and houses the engine/technology for processing player tracking, field tracking and algorithms to derive key performance metrics. So users can typically upload their videos to Metrica Cloud, have the videos processed, then do further coding/tagging, visualisations or editing before sharing it with others.

Metrica Sports Play Basic Workflow

As of 2020, Metrica Sports is being used by over 70 teams around the world of all levels/divisions. It is the founders vision that video and data analysis should be used at every level of the game; in other words, they want to let more people and more communities have access to this technology. Which is why they released a FREE basic plan for everyone. With the free basic plan, users can download the Metrica Play software either for Mac or Windows and do basic video analysis of their football game. They key difference with the basic plan is that everything needs to be done manually post game. So for example, with visualising, there isn’t automatic player tracking, so users need to use the Keyframing tool to track players manually before they add other visualisations like spotlights, linking players, adding tactical lines etc. Again, their goal is to get more people using video analysis tools and leverage that basic technology to improve their game. Read more about why they are launching the free plan here: link or check out the CEO’s introduction video below:-

Cipher Skin Has Developed The BioSleeve For Physical Therapy & Training

Source: Cipher Skin

Some say getting injured is part and parcel of playing sports or doing any physical training/activity. It could be due to accidents/impacts or joint overuse or poor technique etc. Depending on how serious the injury, the recovery process can be long or short. One challenge of the recovery and rehab process is keeping track of how things are going and optimising the process. Typically, the physiotherapist or physical therapist (PT) might prescribe exercises for the athlete to do at home but it is up to the athlete to manage that themselves. The PT can’t monitor the day-to-day rehab progress and can only review the athlete at the next follow up which could be a week or 2 later. Often, if the athletes/clients are not doing those exercises properly or at all, they don’t make any progress and there is little the PT can do except to remind them to do the workouts. However, being able to measure and quantify the day-to-day means the PT can pick up on progress/mistakes and call for earlier interventions if required.

Cipher Skin was formed to give Physical Therapists the tools for monitoring the progress of their clients whether they are recovering from a surgery or injury. They developed wearable sensor solutions that can capture motion data in a 3D space as well as measure physiological data such as heart rate, blood oxygen saturation level and body temperature. When the PT’s client puts on the sensor garment and pairs it with their mobile device, the PT will be able to ‘see’ how well the exercises were performed – what was the angle of rotation and how fast/slow they were doing the exercise. In this way, the PT also has visibility over how diligently the exercises were done. It even allows the PT to do a remote consultation over a video call with the client, do an evaluation of their range of motion while getting quantified values. Cipher Skin’s first product that is coming to the market is the BioSleeve for arms. They have recently produced and shipped their first 100 units after much testing and validation. For those therapists or clinicians who are interested to get one or see a demo, do check out their website here: link. There is also a video demo below showing how a telehealth session with the BioSleeve could work:

Pixellot Launches Air – An Integrated Mobile Solution For Video Capture, Review & Analysis

Pixellot Air

Pixellot is a sports video technology company who is revolutionising the sports broadcasting world with their AI-automated video production solutions. Their main hardware technology includes an unmanned multi camera system that is capable of capturing sports footage on an entire field using panoramic capture and stitching the images together. Its advanced auto-production mechanisms tracks the flow of play, identifies highlights, creates replays and inserts advertisements without a human operator. There’s also the analytics, video editing, annotation and self coding platform delivering a complete solution for coaches, analysts and athletes. The thing about their original/earlier multi camera system is that it has a number of operational requirements including: – an electrical connection and an internet connection. Consequently, the camera system needs to be permanently installed at the sports facility. That plus the cost of the system means (mainly) only elite clubs will be able to afford it.

Pixellot App

Pixellot Air is their answer for an affordable, light and portable end-to-end video solution that is still capable of delivering a lot of the key features such as auto-production, auto-highlights and advanced coaching tools. This latest product offering was developed in collaboration with Barça Innovation Hub and the intention was for football academies and training teams to have access to this performance analysis tool. Several teams within the Barça academy have been testing the units over the past year and in the process they have helped to fine tune the features and functionalities that will be helpful to the training teams. What stands out in the Pixellot Air is it’s portability (less than 2kg), its ease of setting up and recording control using the mobile app, which we can see in the video below. More information about the Air can be found on their website: link.

LIMBIC Is The New Interactive Home Fitness Device

The term Limbic brings to mind the Limbic system which is the part of the brain that supports functions such as emotions, behaviour, sense of smell and long-term memory. Some studies found that playing certain video games can be beneficial to brain functions . Then if we combine physical activity with video games – i.e. exergaming (or exercise + gaming), this could potentially benefit both the brain and the body. I think that is at least what LIMBIC is aiming to achieve. LIMBIC is a gaming and tracking system that turns a blank wall into a fun and interactive exergaming platform. How it works: The main LIMBIC device is mounted on a wall while a connected projector puts up the game or activity interface on the wall. Once the program is loaded up and displayed by the projector, the user can interact with the program by touching the wall or making different movements in front of the LIMBIC device. All movements are tracked by the 3D cameras and Lidar sensors packed into the device enclosure that is roughly smaller than a shoe box.

LIMBIC device

This device has been developed by the same team (FUN WITH BALLS) that produced the Interactive Squash and Multi-Ball products. They have previously been focusing on B2B markets where their interactive walls require professional installations. So their systems can mostly be found in sports academies or facilities, sports events, and commercial applications. But in the last two years, the team started working on a consumer version – a home activity and fitness solution and that is LIMBIC. They have recently just launched its crowdfunding campaign. The device comes with over 30 exergaming and fitness applications with ball games that we have seen in the Multi-Ball products, as well as home workout programs with real-time tracking and feedback. This new system works with the company’s existing marketplace of physical gaming apps, which means developers can use their SDK to develop new applications in the future using the Unity and Godot game engines. Check out their Kickstarter campaign here: link or watch their crowdfunding video below:

Ida Sports Has Designed Football Boots For The Female Athlete

Men and women are different. However, for the longest time, sports equipment were designed more for men. There will be some exceptions but if we look at a lot of the team sports that have been around for a while, majority of the players and athletes at the professional level are men. I won’t try to dive into the reason why because it will probably be a very long discussion and not for this place. One thing I would take out of that is with more men represented in those sports, sporting goods company would design their products with those men in mind. As sports become more competitive, so does the amount of efforts put into the research and development of those apparel. Let’s talk about soccer boots, they are now not just made for running and kicking. They are designed and engineered for high performance – more comfort, more balanced, faster response, better grip, better control etc. Again, the design brief had a male athlete in it and the sports companies might adjust the sizes a little so that it fits women. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really fit and no one has come up with something that serves the female player’s feet. Until…

Ida Sports came along. Or rather when Laura Youngson (co-founder of Ida Sports) had an epiphany moment in the mountains while setting a world record for the highest altitude football match with 29 other women. She realised she wasn’t the only one who struggled to find football boots that fit her. This sparked off a journey of researching, meeting a co-founder, working with podiatrists, physiotherapists and biomechanists, building multiple prototypes, and running tests with volunteer female players. The outcome was better understanding of what the female athlete needs and therefore a pair of boots designed for that purpose. The notable points in their re-engineered 2020 design (dubbed the Ida Classic) are:

  1. Stud alignment to support pressure load
  2. Narrow heel cups and extra support around the heel
  3. Wider toe box – women typically have a proportionally wider toe area than men.
  4. Midfoot support – reduces weight on other pressure points in the feet.
  5. Traction and stability – The better fit gives players maximum stability and traction
  6. Sustainably sourced kangaroo leather – more comfort

So with better fit and better support, this means less chance of injuries and better performance. For now, Ida Sports believes their Ida Classic will suit female players in Soccer, Football (Aussie Rules) and Rugby. They do have plans to expand into other sports such as cricket, basketball and others down the road. Reach out to them here if any of you has any suggestions of what sports Ida Sports should look into. Read more about their story here: link or check out their earlier crowdfunding video below:

And that is our last top five sports tech news for 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. As we finish the year and start a new one, I want to thank everyone who has followed this blog, read the articles, liked it on social media, left us comments here or on social media and even shared it on your social accounts. I really really appreciate it. I hope that the articles that me and the team shared here has been helpful to athletes, coaches and people out there in the sports industry. Here’s wishing everyone a good and productive new year ahead.

Thank you again and onwards!

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