How Wearable Technology Will Change Sports

New technology represents a critical advantage in analytics.

Apr 3, 2014 at 1:41PM

Last month at the Vancouver TED conference, Google chief executive Larry Page challenged company leaders to think big. He explained that stagnation is plaguing innovation, a sort of staleness of ideas. Page added, "especially in technology, we need revolutionary change." 

Advanced player tracking

Although billionaire entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban falls short of Page's idea to send people to Mars, he is still transforming how sports and technology blend. Cuban is pioneering the use of elaborate GPS tracking devices in the NBA. These hi-tech devices measure hundreds of data points, everything from acceleration to biometrics. They are discreet and nearly weightless, commonly used under a waistband for example. This enables the devices to be worn and collect data during training and games. This data can be mined to identify countless performance benchmarks, improve game strategy, "make teams smarter, and keep players on the court more," Cuban told the Australian Financial Review. "It also may save a career or even a life on the way."

Catapult Sports, the Australian company that makes the wearable sensors, heralds the visionary Cuban and the Mavericks as its first major U.S. sports client. Now the technology is used by NHL teams, some football teams like the Cowboys, in addition to more international sports like cricket and rugby. Cuban said, "Wearable analytics will be a critical advantage in pro sports and eventually ... in business."

He is so committed to the space and the world's leading provider, Catapult, that he has purchased an equity stake in the company. Cuban could be on to something here -- prospective clients include hundreds of university athletic programs and the thousands of sports teams and leagues – all with deep pockets.

The 'wearables' phenomenon is big business

Markcuban

Twitter: @mcuban                       

There are reality interfaces like Google Glass, fitness bracelets like Fitbit, an Apple smart watch on the way, and many more devices on the market. As the technology improves, these devices will continue to combine features and increase potential application. Another NBA owner (and fellow billionaire) Vivek Randivé already has added tech infrastructure to the Sacramento Kings. He is also committed to Goggle Glass and the creative use of wearables to engage fans, in what he calls "NBA 3.0."

The wearable market is heavily invested in by multinational apparel companies like Adidas, Nike, and Reebok. Catapult is attracting capital daily and has only this technology to focus on. Therefore experts believe the Australian company holds an advantage in the space.

Investors like Cuban could license the technology to the interested brands and properties. As Catapult Chairman Adir Shiffman stated, "[Cuban] will act in an advisory role and will help open doors for us to speak to new clients," adding "we're on the way to being a billion-dollar company."

Change in sports

Sports science and analytics is a growing field. Whether fans are looking for a deeper breakdown of the game or teams are pursuing performance improvements, leagues have committed to being a part of it. Through its advanced media division, MLB is partnered with Bloomberg Sports. The NBA has a relationship with SportVU. The results are very similar to Catapult devices except done with optical-tracking cameras. They equip advanced digital cameras in the sporting venue that monitor the coordinates of the players. Much like with the wearable devices, the cameras collect vast amounts of data. Then the raw data is analyzed by a series of algorithms that quantify player movement and live action.

The Catapult wearable technology is well positioned to supplement the visual data from an analytics perspective. This can all be done in real-time to an iPad on the bench (depending on league rules), enabling smarter decisions from the coaching staff. 

Whether for professional athletes or for the weekend warrior, wearables are the hot tech item for performance analysis. They also are able to provide insights on recovery times and injury prevention. 

Catapult's technology is currently in use by over 300 teams across the globe. "Teams become very proficient very quickly with generating reports and numbers that have the potential to be useful. The real power lies in helping teams understand how this data can be useful and how it can evolve practice and thinking.... The advantage of having our data is that the arguments from players or other staff members is removed because the data is objective," said Product Development Manager Michael Regan in a release.

Perhaps more important, the devices have preferred revenue opportunities. These include distribution across all sectors of professional, amateur, and youth sports, direct to consumer sales, licensing to the many interested brands, and more. The nature of the technology allows for a marquee athlete or tastemaker to sponsor the product, should a consumer version be developed. This new era of sports business, armed with technology and deep analyses, is the "revolutionary change" Larry Page has called upon. Firms like Catapult and visionaries like Cuban lead the charge.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers