The COVID 19 pandemic has made the necessity for technology in all aspects of life undeniably evident: from online education software to AI technologies to self-train at home.
Under social distancing measures training facilities such as gyms, sports fields, training centers, among others, are not operating as usual; professional athletes struggle to find facilities to train with the assistance of coaches.
Halting all training can take a toll on athletes, impacting their performance. In the midst of chaos, sports technology innovation has surged from all parts of the world. In this article, we discuss what are some of the innovative technologies in sports training and how the pandemic has evidenced their relevance.
Bill Gates famously presented a Ted Talk urging governments to prepare their health institutions for the next outbreak in 2015. In spite of this, nations disregarded the urgency of the issue, leaving a sanitary gap that made people vulnerable to outbreaks similar to the coronavirus. Until an effective vaccine is released it’s likely that we will have to a life avoiding the virus.
After great chaos, comes innovation to solve problems. Many companies, that were reluctant to embrace technology began working online, utilizing tools as Zoom, Skype, or Hangouts, trying to keep their businesses afloat.
The sports industry has been hit hard as well, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was famously canceled and leaving athletes on stand-by mode. Fortunately, technology makes adapting to difficult environments possible.
Companies are innovating with high-tech devices that offer state of the art training, with coaching voice input and data about performance. Big league firms have relied on tech analytics to assess their athletes' performance since decades ago - now sports training technology brings these benefits to anyone.
Given that the pandemic made technology demand more apparent, market experts are voicing their insights into whether it's a tentative time for investing in esports. In other words, sports devices that are catered for remote and non-remote environments seem to function "all-terrain" - representing less risk under uncertain times.
Robots and devices containing sensors, 3D imaging, and cutting edge algorithms allow real-time interactions with players which revolutionizes traditional training for high accuracy.
Although many fresh technologies are appearing in the market, feasibility is a key issue that needs more focus. South Korean startup FastPong; for example, has developed a table tennis robot with sensors that allow instant tracking - something key in table tennis due to the high speed of the ball.
They have implemented LED (light-emitting diode), sensors, and artificial intelligence to measure speed, accuracy, and tradeoff and offer athletes advanced tools to self-train. These data are integrated with their App and is certainly one of the most innovative products in table tennis out there.
Usually, only big leagues or big training centers invest in buying these kinds of devices. However, this South Korean startup has managed to offer affordable prices.
*Sports Tech Table Tennis Device
According to one of Spain’s major leagues, Barca, the current technologies in sports analysis are video systems based on multiple semi-automatic cameras (VID), local positioning systems based on radars (LPS), and global positioning systems (GPS).
Thanks to these technologies, big leagues that invest millions of dollars in their athletes better assess their performance and choose their key players.
The leverage that technology sets on the table is undeniable. Not only does it offers a competitive advantage to training, but it also aligns with current generations and market trends.
*Cameras recording a match for analysis
A success story in baseball innovation comes from a Missouri. Rapsodo is a company that provides insightful analytics currently being used by major baseball leagues (MBL), professional athletes, and academies. They use machine learning to analyze a player’s performance and calculate accurate data on:
With technology on their side, even people who don’t have access to the best facilities or coaches, can begin their training and improve their skills. Rapsodo has received powerful testimonials of kids who have improved their abilities, taking them one step closer to achieving their goals in sports.
There have been studies on the impact of sports technology on players’ performance. Experimentation with LED in tennis tables has shown that this technology can improve visual reaction time and performance accuracy in table tennis, also known as Ping Pong.
Besides improved visual reaction time, athletes obtain key data to assess their performance and pinpoint their weaknesses to attempt to fix them.
Aside from merely training, sports technologies are applicable to gaming and entertainment, resulting in a vast array of commercial opportunities.
Virtual reality (VR) has been well received in the gaming industry. Companies such as Sene Arena, have developed a hockey experience for entertainment as well as for training. Similar to this, there are VR options available in golf, football, etc.
According to a publication by Ohio University, "tracking performance, perfecting movements, and enhancing communication actually helps create less injury-prone environments.”
Technological devices such as wristbands or clothes with sensors track an athlete's physical condition including fatigue, heart rate, walked distance, etc, providing necessary information to check on an athlete's health. As a result of better health control, the risk of injuries considerably decreases.
Virtual reality and robotics are currently at the forefront of innovation in sports technology. Virtual reality enables fans to interact with players in a unique experience.
VR is in trials for commercial applications in sports such as soccer and basketball. Companies are seeking to offer sports fans unique experiences such as having access to privileged seating positions to watch a game and obtain a different perspective.
Not only that, but it breaks borders too. NBA executives have stated that VR “plays a major role in growing the league’s global audience by enhancing its broadcasts and providing new fan experiences”.
Sports training technology offers a competitive advantage to players and coaches, and is creating new commercial opportunities in entertainment and gaming.
Many companies are innovating and developing state-of-the-art technologies to provide the ultimate training experience. Welcoming technology into sports more eagerly can potentially be a smart way to diversify risk in uncertain times such as a pandemic.
As the new marketing strategist for FastPong, I'm interested in everything related to sports technology and innovation. I will continue to share insight on what's new in the industry and which companies to keep an eye on.
Key contacts Mark Casey Partner | Deloitte Netherlands [email protected] (2020, April 29). Understanding COVID-19's impact on the sports sector: Deloitte Global. Retrieved July 02, 2020, from https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/covid-19/understanding-COVID-19-s-impact-on-the-sports-sector.html
MONITORING TECHNOLOGIES FOR SPORTS ANALYSIS. (2020, April 14). Retrieved July 02, 2020, from https://barcainnovationhub.com/monitoring-technologies-for-sports-analysis/
Golliver, B. (2017, November 07). The NBA's tantalizing and terrifying future in VR. Retrieved July 02, 2020, from https://www.si.com/nba/2017/11/07/nba-virtual-reality-future-cameras-technology-lebron-james