SportsTech 2021: The tech trends and start-ups changing the game – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago we published the first edition of our Sport Tech 2021 trends piece. A blog series designed for us to share with you the insight and expertise from global SportsTech experts. Now, it’s time for part 2. Read on to find out what tech trends they feel will impact the physical activity sector the greatest and the startups to have on your radar. 

Tim Hayden, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Stadia Ventures

Tech trends

At-Home Exercise & Training. With the world forced to spend the majority of time in their homes, we continue to see a shift in exercise and training by amateurs and professionals. We’ve seen it with the explosion of in-home compact exercise products like Peloton and Mirror to allow people to stay fit. But, we’ve also seen it with startup training platforms to give amateur and pro athletes a chance to continue improving their skills from home.

Start-ups to Watch:

Uplift Labs (USA): Founded by a former Tesla senior executive, GoPro Advanced Technology senior leader, and Carnegie Mellon University machine learning scientist, Uplift Labs provides an AI-based kinematic analysis platform that helps analyze and improve human movement in real-time through your personal device (smart phone or tablet). While going through Stadia’s Spring 2020 cohort and surviving the global pandemic, Uplift shifted their focus and introduced an at-home platform that allows live remote training and coaching from anywhere in the world; creating in-class highlights; and annotating on-the-go. With these additions, their business exploded and is expected to continue well past the end of our global pandemic.

Ryan McCumber, Founder CEO and overall Programe Director Hype Global Virtual Accelerator  

Tech trends

Obviously the big hits this past year were anything related to home fitness; digital solutions that made you feel connected to the rest of the world, getting your exercise while staying socially distanced, e.g. Peloton.  I think in 2021, it will be more outdoor activities but indoor will still play a role with 5G, AR/VR finally starting to become embedded in daily training cycles.  Training the mind is just as important and can add the difference and this will become more prevalent in youth.

Startups to watch

Fun with Balls (Germany): Their new LIMBIC product will be making some headway if you haven’t seen it already it turns your home into a wall fitness game.  They also won FIST Global Series London 2019 start-up competition at Stanford Bridge so of course I’m bias. 

Robo Point Guard (USA). They address the youth training segment and offer the cool tech/digital factor that will get kids excited.  Focusing on basketball, Robo Point Guard is an awesome robot that passes and retrieves balls and provides analysis like having your personal coach measuring your running speed, arc, form, etc.  We already have ex NBA Legend Jerome “JYD” Williams onboard and many more to come as we start showcasing the world’s first robot point guard in the spring.  While I know UK won’t get excited about a basketball Robot Point Guard, but the continent you exited will😊.

Ben Cole, Head of Strategic Projects – Loughborough University London

Tech trends

Exercising at home is in no ways new.  Growing up through the 80’s I remember seeing adverts for home gym equipment from the humble exercise bike and dodgy toning aides through to machismo enhancing electronic rowers and weights machines.  What is new though is how quickly the pandemic (and the accompanying lockdowns) has accelerated the integration of software, hardware and the gym to help democratise fitness and keep us active. 

Startups to watch

Street Tag (UK): I am super keen on Sports Tech Hub’s own Street Tag.  Street Tag enables families to track and get involved in fitness activities in and outside the home. It is simple, fun and rewards physical activity in a smart way.  It offers those who complete its challenges further enhancements and enticements to try out new sports and activities – thus making them more active.  Its biggest advantage is how it engages users into habit forming activities that get them moving.  So, if you are still staring at that gym equipment you bought last year why not give Street Tag a try.

Nicky Affleck, Strategic Growth Consultant, Business Owner, Sport Tech Hub Mentor

Tech Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the way in which we all go about our daily lives. Here in the UK, we have embraced this challenge and brought the adoption of digital innovation into our homes, our working-from-home office and pretty much every part of our daily life. Online webinars, workshops and conferences, to live-from-your-living-room Yoga and Zumba classes. Finding ways to stay active at home, online, has never had a greater opportunity to support people in keeping the momentum going, offline. Our daily fitness routines may never return to how they used to look; but perhaps in that exists the very exciting opportunity to use digital platforms to engage new audiences and make being physical activity fun and accessible to everyone.  

Start-ups to watch

Playwaze (UK): Playwaze aims to support every person in their journey through an active life, by providing engaging digital solutions that inspire everyone to get active in a way that works best for them. Their range of products gives individuals and organisations the opportunity and flexibility to access features that are right for them and the people they work with. As a business, Playwaze have not only pivoted their product portfolio in response to the pandemic; they also continue to listen and consult with sector stakeholders to better understand how technology can be developed to support the grassroots sport and physical activity sector, to not only use technology to explore different approaches to delivering more efficient services, but also to create more impact for the people and networks they work with.

Sam Barton, Co-Founder, London SportsTech Network

Tech trends

Sport’s awakening from pandemic hibernation will likely see a skew towards tech that ensures the health and well-being of end users.  We expect to see isolated-training platforms thrive.  To this end, we love the look of the following startups.

Start-ups to watch

Ludum (UK): Lundum have produced a training and performance analysis platform for coaches, athletes and sports scientists – essentially so coaches can monitor and feedback on performance, including remotely. It’s currently used in rowing and they have some very high-profile national teams and clubs as clients, including Rowing Australia, Cambridge University and Princeton University – and it has the potential for use in many other sports.

Formalytics (UK): Formalytics are the brains behind the MyKicks App and football Player Card. Their progress has been really impressive. They’ve entered into a collaboration agreement with UEFA for their Player Card product and are in the process of closing a £1.5m investment (including from top EPL club and, separately, a top EPL player and brand ambassador). They use truly cutting-edge technology (on both iOS and Android), which will be really exciting for grassroots footballers for measuring shot power, running speed and general skills development. , Co-Founder

Holly Smith, Project Support, Sport Tech Hub

Tech Trends

As people become more socially aware of our impact on the world, more and more sports products aim to tackle issues such as deforestation, global warming, and pollution. Being active whilst making a positive impact can help boost people’s motivation and retention levels as they become morally captivated. Due to this change, people may be more inclined to explore products they can identify with and get behind.

Start-ups to watch

Human Forest (UK): Human Forest encourages active travelling by offering Londoners 10 minutes of free bike access a day with minutes costing £0.15 after this. Their fleet of zero emission bikes are powered by renewable energy sources helping to reduce CO2 emissions and create a healthier atmosphere.

Pavegen (UK): Pavegen has identified that travelling to and from events and venues creates a large carbon footprint and needs to be more sustainable. Therefore, they created a product that turns areas of high volume footfall into renewable and sustainable energy.

Patrick Colbeck

Program Manager
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