We are in the middle of the NFL Playoffs, and they have been engaging and interesting for almost any sports fan. But I couldn’t help but think of the exciting partnerships and collaborations occurring between sports and tech. Tech companies are still finding new areas in the market to capitalize on and improving player safety and the experience for the average sports fan.
In one particular area, due to the change of public opinion, player safety continues to be on the forefront of minds in America and across the globe. Over the past couple of years, the NFL in particular has seen a number of off the field distractions hurt the rating and credibility of the league, but the damage of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and the success of the movie Concussion made the largest difference. Even in little league football, families are making decisions to not have their kids play football. The concern surrounding CTE and player safety is real. Since 2009, when CTE became a part of the American life, youth participation in football has decreased. It has decreased over 27% in the first 5 years, from 2009 – 2014. (source) . Can you blame parents? Not really. But tech companies are working on solutions.
Wired World recently reported that, “In 2017, wearable tech will determine exactly what kinds of impact are most likely to cause concussion.” (source) They are putting sensors in helmets and studying the impact of concussion to create better equipment. There have already been advancements with equipment such as the Q-Collar – and the VCIS Helmet.
X2 Biosystems, has created a sensor called xPatch, which is stuck to the skin behind the right ear. “X2’s X-Patch wearable sensor is also being used to help study cumulative brain damage due to repetitive sub-concussive head impacts, and to develop more comprehensive and personalized remove-from-play thresholds.” (source)
This technology is informing the researching about impacts made to athletes. The NFL has also built sensors in “American football helmets, fabric headbands and rugby scrum caps, or concealed inside mouth guards”. (source)
The attention being poured sports technology is important for the average sports fan or the fanatic, because an important question remains: Can tech be able to fix contact sports till the damage is almost nil. At the end of the day, we all love our football, soccer, rugby, etc., and the safer we can make it, the better.
Shifting gears to some other sports news is that one major tech company, Intel, is looking to improve the sports experience for athletes sport fans despite the trillion dollar industry sports entertainment currently is.
GeekWire recently reported on the “Intel Sports Group” which was started last September to lead “various sports-related partnerships, acquisitions, projects, and more that all make use of Intel’s products and services with wearable computing, virtual reality, connected devices, and more.” (source). One of the acquisition includes Israel-based Replay Technologies (check out their demo here – http://replay-technologies.com/ ) which has brought 360-degree replay to the major leagues, and — “you’ll see it during next month’s Super Bowl”.
However, there are other tech companies partnering such as Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter and SAP to improve the consumer experience.
As technology grows and expands, especially artificial intelligence, who knows what is next.
Also published on Medium.