Super smart and deeply inclusive: The high hopes for sports tech
Out of all the emerging tech verticals, sports tech is set to deliver on the tallest list of expectations. Make me healthier. Entertain me. Give me new reasons to hang out (and exercise) with my friends. Part of the excitement around the sector is its ability to cross over business areas and serve multiple user needs. And it is growing. Investments in sports tech reached 364 million euros last year, while entrepreneurs are coming together through initiatives like Nordic Sports Tech and Sports Tech Campus.
Several shared questions are on the agenda of this ecosystem. Here, we listed five of the most interesting ones.
1. How can tech strengthen sports communities?
First-generation tracking products like Endomondo and Fitbit taught us that working out is a solitary game of self-improvement. But these days people seem more inclined to join an urban running club or the religion of Soulcycle than monitoring their heart rate. It is timely for sports entrepreneurs to look into community-centric solutions. The platform GameChanger gets it right, as it allows amateur teams to keep score on matches and share it with the parents standing on the sidelines.
2. What will data do to professional athletics?
Biometric trackers form a group of wearable tools that can change how top athletes work. They are not only able to measure performance, broken down into indicators such as respiration levels, breathing, and lactic acid. Biometrics might also reduce the risk of burnout for players, as they can give a heads up on the warning signs. Aside from the safety aspect, sports data is a content pool for fans, packaged in apps like IBM’s SlamTracker.
3. How will sports tech combine physical and digital?
Becoming the one-stop-shop is a tricky ambition. But especially for the private consumer market, there is an opening for startups that combine elements of the training journey. Imagine a compelling digital visualization of your progress, together with the right dietary supplement delivered to your doorstep, or when it suits your schedule: physical meetings. One-on-ones with a trainer and celebrations of reached goals with other users.
4. Is watching Sunday’s match a thing of the past?
Sports as entertainment approaches a serious reshuffle. Bringing friends over and watching a game from start to finish might be a too lengthy activity. Overtime, a challenger among sports networks, caters to young streamers by offering them short bits of coverage. The company also moves the focus from major stars to upcoming ones, as it centers on high school sports. Diversifying who’s on the screen is a persistent theme within the sector. Notably, media coverage of women’s sports is still low compared to men’s.
5. How much advanced gear does the user want?
Fitness centres have long been packed with gear, but the equipment is taking a leap. Say hello to adaptive resistance bikes that promise better muscle buildup. Or electromagnetic field systems – offered by Upgrade Labs – to improve your sense of energy. While high-tech appliances will be popularized, the counterculture will undoubtedly thrive too and declutter the fitness space down to a mat and a set of kettlebells. And the entrepreneurs themselves? They’ve been taking it outside for a while, for instance at Norway’s Startup Extreme.