By Justin Lawler Developer. Biohacker. Organiser of @qs_dublin . Contributor at @Irish_TechNews

In sports, 1% improvement in performance will make or break a nation. Right now rapid adoption of technology in sports is providing these 1% improvements.

Innovation is the underlying theme throughout the day of the One Zero sports conference. Innovation is changing all areas in the landscape of sports, not just improving athletic performance. It’s working to improve the fan engagement experience or even innovating by creating the brand new field of eSports.

Innovation in Sports Performance

Mounir Zok, director of technology & innovation for the US Olympic committee talking about the latest advances in technology in the US Olympics.

Just demonstrating how important getting every single edge teams can get in sports at the highest levels, Mounir showed pictures of photo finishes in the Rio Olympics.

Mounir’s team has been hugely instrumental part of topping the medal table in Rio 2016, with 46 golds During the evening Mounir talked us through some of the lengths their team went through to get those 1% gains everywhere they could get.

Increasingly every aspect of an athlete’s lifestyle is monitored. Smart fabrics are used to get the best data from the athlete’s bodies. Sleep is tracked to maximize recovery time. Nutrition is analyzed and adjusted on a per-athlete basis and a per-training regime basis.

But it goes beyond this. Take synchronized diving. When building teams, Mounir’s team tracked every participating diver in the US with wearable sensors to match partners with the closest styles. Diver’s from New York, say, are matched with someone from San Francisco – something that would never have been possible before technology had advanced this far. It’s innovations like this that give the team another 1% edge on the competition.

All speakers discussed leveraging technology for sports performance throughout the day. From athletics to rugby, to golf, technology is the way every sport is going.


Innovation in sports is even helping with injury prevention. Jaimie Fuller, talking on ethics in sports, highlighted that ethics is much more than doping. Athletes health over the long term from injuries sustained during their competitive years is also a concern. Technology is playing a key role here, with John Paul Hartigan from Shadowman Sports, taking about how their product is revolutionizing training in American football to reduce injuries.

Humanising Technology

While new technology is bringing many benefits sports performance, but it can be difficult to learn and use. A number of speakers talked about ‘wearable data analysis paralysis’ during the day. The athlete’s job is to focus on training. They shouldn’t be worried about how to use devices or how to analyze the data. Athletes need short, sharp, actionable insights.

Solutions to data overload again are coming from innovation in sports. Smart fabrics make sensors invisible to the athletes, reducing the overhead of using the devices. The software is becoming smarter and usable, proving insights in useable ways that athletes can take on board immediately. Coaches are also heavily involved in the analyses of the data.

Innovation in the Sports EcoSystem

Technology is not just improving performance in sports, it’s also revolutionizing the wider ecosystem.

Data is available not just from on the pitch but also from fans. Media companies are now engaging with fans new and unique ways in real time, personalizing the experience on a per fan basis. Social media integration is being used as new channels to engage fans in real time.

Augmented reality is another technology just in its infancy that has the potential to revolutionize how sports will be consumed in the future. For fans outside the stadium, augmented reality will give a much more immersive experience.

Innovation is creating whole new sports. ESports, video gaming with live feeds from professional tournaments, is a massively growing industry worldwide As eSports is growing, sponsorship, advertising and betting are growing with it. ESports is a 463M USD market, set to grow to 1.1B by 2019.

The Future of Innovation in Sports

During the Startup Investment talk, the panel talked about incubator programs. The business skills learned to develop and to bring a product to market that solves a real world problem are invaluable, not just for the participants but for everyone involved in the wider sports ecosystem.

With innovations, with the sports landscape changing so quickly, there are massive opportunities for anyone tapping into these trends, whether it’s in startups, in incubators or even existing companies.

One-Zero will be highlighting these new trends and products for many years to come.

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