“Especially in technology, we need revolutionary change,” announced Google’s CEO Larry Page during last month’s TED conference in Vancouver. When it comes to sports and technology, this revolution is lead by Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner, and entrepreneur, by integrating GPS tracking with the NBA. So how does this pioneering scheme assist change in sports?
“Wearable analytics will be a critical advantage in pro sports and eventually… in business.”
Cuban’s statement rings true when looking at the benefits of GPS tracking. Lightweight and discreet, the devices are comfortable to wear during NBA games and training, measuring crucial data from biometrics to acceleration. These metrics provide potential for strategy and performance improvement, as well as making “teams smarter, and [keeping] players on the court more… it also may save a career or even life on the way”, Cuban said.
Cuban is not the first to investigate the potential of sports technology. Vivek Randivé, Sacramento Kings owner, is already utilizing wearable technology in the NBA and is a firm supporter of Google Glass. Furthermore, international sports apparel giants like Nike, are heavily invested in the market.
Nonetheless, Cuban’s determination and confidence in sports technology has lead to him purchasing a stake in Catapult Sports, the Australian company which makes the GPS sensors. According to experts, the niche technology of Catapult still gives them a market advantage. With thousands of prospective customers in the form of professional and university sports teams and clubs, it is set to become a highly lucrative industry. As Catapult Chairman Adir Shiffman noted, thanks to investors like Cuban, they’re “on the way to being a billion-dollar company.”
Driving the change
SportVU, another wearable technology company, also has a relationship with the NBA. Alternatively to Catapult, SportVU uses optical tracking cameras to collect data. Nevertheless, Catapult is set only to complement the analytics of visual data, potentially in real-time via an iPad from the bench, allowing smarter coaching strategies.
Sports change is already occurring based on Catapult’s advancements, with 300+ teams globally implementing their technology. Michael Regan, Catapult’s Product Development Manager, said that “the real power lies in helping teams understand how this data can evolve practice and thinking… arguments from players or other staff members [are] removed because the data is objective”.
Wearable technology like Catapult’s has opened up many revenue aisles ranging from the professional sector to general consumer sales, as well as elements such as brand licensing. Developing a consumer version would pave the way for a marquee athlete to sponsor the technology.
With wearables being the performance analysis hot tech, sports business’ new era is already arriving. Together, Cuban and Catapult are helping sports accelerate towards Page’s vision of true revolution within the industry.