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The Power of Sports and Tech


Looking to improve as an athlete? Technology could enhance your training and offer an edge in competition.

Sports technology is enriching the global pro, amateur and hobbyist sports experience from coaching, practicing, playing and analyzing performance to betting, fan engagement, broadcasting and marketing. For athletes, sports tech includes many innovative tools that enhance training and offer an edge in competition. Gadgets, devices and wearables are being imbued with technology and connectivity including cameras that track thousands of movements, virtual reality and immersive media, GPS, accelerometers, sensors, gaming cation as well as data science and algorithms that predict what a player might do in certain scenarios. 

Arccos, a Stamford, CT-based startup, demonstrated the power of sports tech at Microsoft’s annual Build conference last May. The company, which creates golf shot tracking technology, announced a new smartphone app that connects to sensors attached to a club grip to track each shot and provide GPS yardage information. The Arccos Caddie is the “first platform in sports that truly harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to help players make smarter decisions,” according to Microsoft Sports Principal Evangelist Mike Downey. “Through the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, Arccos Caddie instantly digests unique data sets and delivers actionable advice to any golfer – from beginners to pros – seeking to make the PGA Tour.” 

And TuringSense, a Silicon Valley pioneer in wearable sports technology, scored $3 million to expand its innovative PIVOT line of intelligent, AI-embedded wearable products. It aims to revolutionize training for all kinds of human movement activity, including fitness, virtual reality gaming, sports, physical therapy and rehabilitation. The products use multi-sensor, high-speed full-body motion analysis to track a tennis or golf swing, for example. This portable device is wireless and provides instant biomechanic feedback for technique optimization, improved performance and injury prevention. Scalable cloud-based technology enables users to store and share data with coaches, doctors and trainers in real-time or via social media. PIVOT Tennis, its first consumer product, is due in Q3 2017. And in the next few years, the live sports industry will engage more deeply with over-the-top content, as well as mobile and social media platforms for premium content distribution.

Intel acquired Tel Aviv-based Replay Technologies in 2016 for its proprietary Free Dimensional Video “FreeD” 360 Replay for immersive sports technology. High-resolution cameras and computer-intensive graphics let viewers experience highlights of sporting events from any angle. For example, Intel’s “Be the Player” 360-degree replay technology was used in the 2017 Super Bowl to give football fans a unique field-of-vision perspective without needing a physical camera attached to each player.

esports

Brands want to leverage their popularity with fans whether at home or at the stadium. Companies also want to keep live sports relevant for younger generations that expect immediate gratification across any device. Major investments have been made by leading brands and broadcasters in esports. Video game tournaments are a $700 million global industry thanks to fans who watch online or at packed stadiums to cheer on their favorite players competing in games.

Players include Activision Blizzard, the maker of games like Call of Duty and StarCraft, whose publisher, Activision Blizzard, acquired Major League Gaming in 2015. It operates MLG.tv, an online broadcast network for professional level competitive gaming; the MLG Pro Circuit, the longest-running esports league in North America; and GameBattles, the largest crossplatform online gaming tournament system with nine million registered global users. Each month, Major League Gaming reaches millions of fans via web, mobile, connected TVs and gaming consoles. Riot Games, maker of esports hit League of Legends, and published by Chinese internet giant Tencent, fuels the League of Legends Championship Series.

Tech is reshaping how pro and amateur athletes train as well as how fans participate, including viewing esports.

Susan Schreiner

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