On August 28-29, 2017, SportsCouncil hosted their first New York event at the ATP Hotel. In this two day conference, professional tennis coaches, training staff and cutting-edge sports technology companies came together to discuss a range of concerns including player performance, audience immersion technology, equipment enhancements, VR/AR training simulations and biometric analysis through non-invasive wearables.
To set the primer for day one’s panel, Julien Blin, CEO of SportsCouncil started the discussion with the viable need for professional athletes and technology companies to collaborate together in order to improve the sport of tennis as a whole. Blin stated “There are great technologies from beacon technologies, AR/VR/MR technologies to non invasive wearables that can help improve retail sales, fans engagements, and bring a new audience to the world of tennis”.
Following a number of product demonstrations, the first of two panel discussions commenced, starting with technology drivers in the future. Following the spirited discussion, many on the stage pointed to using AI technology for improving officiating accuracy and for training staff to monitor biometric performance data. Additionally, the focus changed from player to audience, with a desire to improve the fan experience both from viewing numbers and spreadability on social media. Especially with VR gradually becoming more mainstream, spectators that could not be at the competition could feel like they were there without the high financial burden and this technology could help reach all new generations of players who are not easily exposed to the sport.
The second panel focusing on player performance and retention. Paul Annacone, the former coach of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, believes that there are a lot of biometric data being tracked through wearables at the moment, but for him focusing on the relevant metrics is key. “There is so much data out there (..) I think you need to keep things simple and focus on some real simple data (..) To me relevant data to track are things like the location and shot direction”, stated Paul Annacone. Being able to track the biometric data in real time is another critical factor to help prevent injuries. “It is important for teams to prevent injuries (..) To do so, one the keys is to monitor the biometric data in real time and that’s what we are focusing on at Kenzen”, stated Heidi Lehmann, Chief Commercial Officer at Kenzen, a San Francisco based startup that has built a smart patch that can measure various biometric data (HR, hydration level, core body temperature, IMU) in real time. While access to real-time data has proven invaluable, “It is still only a tool to be used by the coaches and training staff. This is not a means to replace the viability of a player’s team”, stated Jean-Francois Roy, CTO of Hexoskin, a leading smart clothing company.
In the next 5 years, using data and analytics via the use of wearables could make a big impact on player performance and injury prevention. “Data from sports science that will be able to better help athletes so that they can better manage progress, recovery and injuries”, stated Annacone. And as wearables, sensors and algorithms improve, it could also help athletes better understand their body. “With advancement of wearables we will truly have a sense of how we are doing with our body and help prevent injuries”, concluded Heidi Lehmann. Indeed, with the rising cost of injuries, technology can also flag a number of potential health issues. Especially in American professional team sports within the NBA, and NFL, injuries across each league can add up, costing well over $340M annually.
During the second day of the conference, Rishi Bhatnagar, CEO of Syntelli Solutions, gave a keynote on Data Analytics and Tennis. It was then followed by a panel on sports science and player perspective where attendees had the opportunity to hear from former tennis players like Bobby Blair and Christo Van Rensburg.
Then BrickSimple did a live demo of its VR tennis experience. You can watch a video here. The second day of the conference was concluded by a panel on launching successful startups and business models. The panelists were asked what the “Having a strong management team and product is important, but figuring out a solid business model is event more important in my opinion”, stated Walid Fattah, CEO of KOURTS. Choosing an affordable location to build a startup is another successful factor that is often overlooked, according to Vasu, Partner, CourtsideVC / Krossover CEO. “If I would have an advice to give to all these young entrepreneurs out there that would be to start their business outside of NY and the Silicon Valley (..) Otherwise they could be burning a lot of cash in rent every month, which is not a good way to start”, concluded Kulkarni.
Join us at SportsCouncil’s next Tennis Tech event that will take place on April 8-11, 2018 at the Wilde Dunes Resort in Charleston, SC. If you want to attend, speak, exhibit, sponsor this event, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you there!