Sports Technology

Sports Tech Shoutouts – Oct 2021

In this edition of shoutouts, we highlight a collaborative network for startups to accelerate their development/growth, a running app that provides adaptive coaching, and a smart mouthguard company planning to revolutionise concussion management.

Welcome to the Sports Technology Blog monthly shoutouts! If any of you are into running or cycling, you would probably have heard of or used the running/cycling app, Strava. According to Wikipedia, they first released their app back in 2009 and from what we see on their website, they have upwards of 74 million users from 244 countries (??), doing 21.5 million uploads every week and clocking up 4 billion activities and more. Besides these astonishing statistics, or rather because of these astonishing statistics, I have heard multiple times where sports tech startups were formed because they wanted to create a “Strava equivalent” for their sport or application. When they say that, what they mean is, they want to keep track of their specific sports or training activity and use the data collected to help users improve and to help users stay motivated. In the same way that Strava does. For example, there are smart gyms that want to be the Strava equivalent for strength workouts. There are basketball or tennis or soccer apps that want to be the Strava equivalent for hoops practice or games tracking or drills training. Of course, those apps/products are really quite different from Strava in terms of the tracking technologies and features. But because Strava is so “well-known”, it is convenient for a founder to explain their startup that way so that their audience can easily form the context.

Are you building a “Strava equivalent” for a different application? Or are you looking for a “Strava equivalent” for a problem you are facing? If you are, please leave a comment below. We would love to learn more or help out.

Back to our shoutouts. We want to mention these interesting developments:

  1. STRN has officially launched to support the creation of innovative sports technologies through strategic collaborations
  2. Vitesse Running app wants to help runners reach their goals with adaptive workout plans
  3. HitIQ’s smart mouthguards are helping teams manage impacts and concussions in athletes

Read more below:


STRN Wants To Support The Creation Of Innovative Sports Technologies Through Strategic Collaborations

STRN stands for Sports Technology Research Network. It was back in June 2020 that this idea was launched. Kristof De Mey, the founder of STRN saw that when there was good collaboration between different research groups and industry partners, there were good innovative outcomes. On the other hand, Kristof realised that good multidisciplinary collaborations do not come along easily. From his conversations with academics and researchers in various fields (sports science, engineering, management) and professionals in sports and health, he noticed a gaping disconnect between all the different groups. He felt that if they all could get together and work together, the outcomes and solutions they could come up with would be 10x or 100x better than if they worked in their silos. The challenge is creating that platform for collaboration, and STRN aims to be the answer to that challenge.

Source: STRN.co

Who is this for? This STRN platform is aimed at startup founders and organisations who are trying to find help from experts, extend their network, learn about what’s new, start new projects, increase their visibility and more. This is for those who are open to collaborations, who want to accelerate the process of fine-tuning and achieving the right goals.

What is the network? The STRN team has gathered key partners in research and industry who are experts in their own fields. These people are thought leaders from across the world with very relevant backgrounds. People who are sports science researchers and practitioners, sports tech founders, people well versed in wearable technology, people who understand the needs of the market, and people who have straddled across the sports, research an business world. When people sign up to be part of the network, they get connected to those partners and other members. One key aspect of the network is there is a strong focus on translating evidence-based research to viable commercial opportunities.

How does it work? There are three types of memberships (for startup founders and organisations) that provide different access and opportunities:

  1. Individual membership
    • access to content, open challenges and collaboration opportunities
    • access to events (at a discount)
    • access to find potential partners or co-founders
  2. Organisational membership
    • similar access to the above; plus
    • innovation opportunities
    • business opportunities
  3. Foundational membership
    • all the above; plus
    • work closely with the STRN team to help ‘guide the ship’
    • strategic learning
    • opportunity to give back to the community

There are more details about the memberships on their website. There is also a promotional pricing as this is written for a limited time, so get in quick if any of the above seems attractive and especially if you are not far from Belgium (which is where STRN is based).


Vitesse Running App Wants To Help Runners Reach Their Goals With Adaptive Workout Plans

Vitesse Running is a startup based in Bulgaria that has developed an innovative running app. Like most running apps, they have a freemium model. There is the basic run tracking and creating of custom run workouts that is available to everyone. Then there is the premium subscription that lets users access an adaptive coaching platform. The adaptive coaching creates a training plan at first based on the goals and schedule set by the user. But as the user trains and records their training on the app, the platform will analyse the captured running metrics and adjust the recommended workouts based on how the user is progressing.

Who is it for? There are actually 3 groups of people Vitesse is targeting.

  1. Runners who want to improve their running through personalised training plans.
  2. Running event organisers that want to have a better way of reaching runners and coordinating running events.
  3. Corporate organisations that want to provide a wellness plan or motivate their staff members to stay fit and healthy, or host one-time events or team-building activities.

What is unique about this platform? For runners who want to improve on their running, the platform is very adaptable. If runners are experienced and know exactly how they would like train, they have the option to create custom workouts. The app provides audio cues and feedback to help the runner stick to their workout plan. Then, as mentioned earlier, there is the adaptive coaching for runners who prefer to have some guidance. All they need to do, is set their running goal (e.g. running the half marathon in 2 hours) and their preferred days for running, and a plan will be built for them. Vitesse’s running workouts and plans were formulated with the assistance of an Olympic coach and a long distance runner, and they have been tested and proven to be effective.

Vitesse running app screens
Vitesse running app screens

What to look out for? Vitesse is actively working on improving their app for runners and making sure that it helps runners run better and that it integrates with other tools that runners need. For example, it now integrates with Garmin and Apple Watch and there are social media integrations. Other things they are looking at include integration with other fitness and training apps.

HR devices integration - Garmin and Apple Watch
HR devices integration – Garmin and Apple Watch

The Vitesse platform can host running and charity events. It allows participants to sign-up, make payment and organisers of those events to communicate and coordinate those events smoothly. So they expect more events and challenges (virtual or real-life) to be popping up. They are also looking to co-brand with sporting equipment companies to promote their products and services. Lastly, they are seeking out corporate organisations that are thinking of alternative ways of team-building or engaging their staff or encouraging them to stay fit. The team at Vitesse is open to providing custom solutions to fit their organisations.

For those who are interested to try their app, it is currently available on both the App store and Google Play. Those who are interested in their events or corporate solutions can reach out to them via email (hello@vitesserunning.com) or on their LinkedIn page.


HitIQ’s Smart Mouthguards Are Helping Teams Manage Impacts & Concussions In Athletes

Scottish rugby
Scottish rugby (source: link)

HitIQ has been developing, testing and validating their smart mouthguard for the last five years. Initially founded in Western Australia, they have since moved their HQ to Melbourne where most of the research and development work is done. Their smart mouthguard contains a sensor array consisting of 4 accelerometers and a gyroscope. Each player who needs a smart mouthguard will get it fitted at a dental practice and the sensors and electronics are placed inside when the mouthguards are made. Since every mouthguard is custom fitted, the sensors need to be factory calibrated before they can be deployed. When worn, impact data is transmitted wirelessly (almost real-time), while charging is done wirelessly too. HitIQ’s smart mouthguards have been used by the AFL (Australian Football League) for the last two years and more recently, a number of rugby teams (including Scottish Rugby and Rugby Australia) have signed up to protect their players.

Who is this for? This is for athletes/players and clubs that want to better manage impacts, concussions and their related injuries. This is especially so for contact sports such as the various codes of football, rugby (union, league) , hockey (field and ice), lacrosse or even basketball.

HitIQ mouthguard – Nexus A9 (source: hitiq.com)

What is unique about them? As mentioned, the mouthguards are fitted to the players and we know that custom fitted mouthguards perform better than standard off-the shelf ones. Better fit also means better transfer of energy and forces during impact (from the head to the jaw and to the embedded sensors). So this can lead to more accurate reporting of the impacts and is more useful for further analysis and diagnosis. HitIQ has developed a system that enables real-time tracking of impacts. Multiple signal receivers are placed around the field to receive data from the players’ mouthguards. Having that real-time impact data can be beneficial because impacts may not look severe but objective data could tell a different story and getting that player to rest instead of playing on could prevent further damage.

Virtual Reality Assessment

What to look out for? With all the usage and collection of data at the elite level, the AFL is doing further research and developing updated concussion guidelines that will inform and benefit grassroot clubs at a later stage. The team at HitIQ is also working on a Virtual Reality (VR) concussion assessment tool called COVR. CoVR identifies impairments across domains including hand-eye coordination, memory, and decision making. It will form part of the HitIQ concussion management ecosystem creating an end to end solution.

You can learn more about HitIQ’s smart mouthguard in this video below:


One Last Thing – Podcasts

Before we go, here are a few interesting podcast episodes that are related to this edition of shoutouts:

  1. How I built this with Guy Raz – How I Built Resilience: Michael Horvath and Mark Gainey of Strava – an interesting interview where the Strava founders talked about how it all started and how its going. (NPR Link or watch on Youtube)
  2. Sports Tech Research Podcast – Kristof De Mey – Translating scientific output into practical applications used in the field – Kristof talks about what led to the formation of the Sports Tech Research Network. (STRN Link)
  3. The HealthKick Podcast with Tim Boreham – New ASX stock HitIQ has a revolutionary solution for the concussion problem in contact sport – a story of how HitIQ all began, what they are focusing on and how they want to solve the concussion problem. (Podcast link)

And that is our sports tech shoutouts for Oct 2021. If you would like more information about any of the above, or maybe you caught on to something and would like to chat about it, feel free to reach out or leave a comment below. If you enjoy our content, please do share on the socials using the links below or subscribe to our blog here: link. Thanks for spending time with us! 

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