With the massive enthusiasm for sport fostered by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games not yet a distant memory, MBF Blog runs an occasional series of pieces about sports and technology and related matters.
We also sponsor a local triathlete, Joe Skipper as he trains and competes in Ironman competitions.
This is a round up of some new developments that show the continuing and deepening relationship between technology and sports in general. It comes as news breaks of the Spires Academy in Canterbury forking out £125,000 from its IT budget and grants to give 450 students iPads to improve their footballing skills by watching themselves back and comparing with stars like Wayne Rooney!
Sports Finance Opportunities Online
A new venture to offer a web-based trading platform for sports stars is in the making. Former Manchester City, Birmingham, Newcastle and Reading player Ray Ranson has turned to entrepreneurship and is set to launch an internet exchange to give professional investors an opportunity to buy stakes in both sports personalities and in their clubs.
He already has established a track record, having been involved in R2 Asset Management, a sports-related deal investor and has worked on a scheme which gave football clubs the chance to sell and lease back players as a means of bridging their finance gaps.
This is a man who understands the ‘beautiful game’ from top to bottom, and has shown he is no slouch at the other ‘beautiful game’ of making money from sports and now the internet.
Big Money and Sport
Nowadays money and sport are never far apart. BT’s audacious move into sports broadcasting, shunting aside familiar names of Sky and ESPN, is both a high risk strategy for the telecommunications giant and a sign that sport opens doors to other areas of life.
BT are investing heavily in both Premier League Football viewing rights and Premiership Rugby. Expect more to follow in what is now clearly a multi-sports strategy. They will seek to outbid all and any other broadcasters. Why? They are looking to expand their BT Vision pay-TV channel.
Sky are way ahead of them in terms of expertise in what is an incredibly costly business, broadcasting live sport. The risk for newbie BT is that revenues are not looking as good as previously, and dividend uncertainty is making some investors nervous.
Big sponsorship is highly praised, normally, unless it’s pay-day loan people Wonga sponsoring Newcastle United FC. Everyone involved enjoys the stability of guaranteed income to the various sports, safeguarding games, facilities, cups and staff for years ahead. A win-win scenario is fondly described by all, a kind of paradise on earth. Time will tell if the company has actually outbid its own strength.
Some analysts believe BT has little choice. The pay-TV market is competitive and that can only accelerate as more ‘package bundling’ of services (broadband, phone, TV) becomes the industry norm and customers demand ever more inventive deals.
Water, gas, electricity, car fuel … who knows, but they could soon be on offer with broadband and TV services.
Real Time Sports Training Monitor
At the other end of the business scale, a new thrusting young company, CloudTag, set to list on the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) in London soon, has what it sees as the potential to grow very big indeed. They produce a single app.
Their smartphone and tablet app is ‘the next generation of personal monitoring’. If information is truly performance, then this device will help gym users and track athletes monitor their training.
It uses a microchip within a patch attached to the body which wirelessly sends real time data to the app that analyses effectiveness of their workout.
Actually, the potential is enormous and goes beyond sports enthusiasts. People encouraged to take daily exercise and needing some idea of how they are doing, those in physiotherapy and also needing progress reports and workers who find their sedentary lives are storing up health problems later can all draw benefit from this one.
The floating on the stock market will value the company at around £29 million, so this could be one to watch for investors. Now where’s that app for monitoring new and innovative companies?
Processing Peripheral Data Is Key to Sports Success
Meanwhile in Bellevue, Washington, the Sports Reaction Center is harnessing new technology to improve reaction time and decision-making skills. The need for an athlete to process visual information faster and more accurately is paramount, particularly when under stress. They are also being helpful to sportsmen and women recovering from injuries.
Athletic errors usually occur through lack of information, poor interpretation of visual cues, insufficiently developed motor skills, poorly timed responses, poor peripheral awareness and lapses of concentration.
Their Dynavision D2 Board is used by professional and amateur sports people for reactive/cognitive testing and training. SRC boss Neil Chasan said: ‘Most people don’t think to train the eyes for their sport, but in most instances, reaction time is based on how you respond to things you see, enabling you to make quick decisions during competition’.
Part of it is like a peripheral vision test employed by opticians, but with extra demands to add numbers together and/or memorising them simultaneously. The system works by ‘triggering the nervous system’, forcing the brain to react more quickly to different combinations of tasks.
Once again, the human body being pushed, sports and cutting-edge technology in perfect harmony.