FEATURE: Is the sports industry prepared for disruption from technology?

July 6, 2015



FEATURE: Is the sports industry prepared for disruption from technology?

July 6, 2015

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Future Sport attended the Sport-Tech: Playing the Game event last week, hosted by Muru Digital, a start-up accelerator backed by Telstra.

Sport and Technology are both multi-billion pound industries. As the two collide we are seeing the emergence of a whole new world, one which is causing havoc and disruption for those involved, most notably the brands and technology companies. From wearables to virtual reality, to the evolving way in which fans interact with teams, sports and brands, the landscape is developing at an incredibly rapid pace. In light of this we ask an important question; is the sports industry prepared for disruption from technology?

Jonathan MacDonald

At the event, thought Leader, Jonathan MacDonald voiced this unique perspective: “What if it was both the norm and allowed for athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs?” With his slides, Jonathan articulated the viewpoint of how many athletes use performance-enhancing drugs, most of which are still under the radar. He then expressed how in the future it may not be an issue at all to use them, particularly as he sees technology and biology evolving to play an even bigger role in sport.

“Our view of reality is changing – think reality, sport and tech, then flip it upside down.”

With the 2016 Olympic Games just around the corner, Jonathan spoke about the number of different technology products that he believes could become assets in aiding performance of athletes.

LaLaLa – a noise-cancelling headphone with motion-tracking capabilities. When using LaLaLa, you simply point/focus on someone/something and all other noise will be removed. Jonathan explains how a 100m sprinter could focus on the noise of the gun with the stadium and background noise being cancelled out.

OuijiBand – a wristband that uses gyroscope and gimbal to sense your fine motor movements and smooth them out. Imagine if a javelin thrower was wearing this wristband – it would give them more stability in the wrist and increase the accuracy of the throw.

Tiny Robotic Scallops – a microscopic robot that can swim through bodily fluids and repair damaged cells or deliver medicine. Imagine a marathon runner at the 24-mile point – their body is exhausted and they are slowing down. These tiny robotic scallops can be used to repair muscles and reduce fatigue.

Sport-Tech Event

What ‘disruptive’ technology can sports teams use?

Haptic Holographic – a holographic is a physical structure that diffracts light into an image with UltraHaptics. The image will be projected with sound waves to create 3D virtual objects that you can feel and showed us the example of a meet and greet with an historical player, or a legend who past away many years ago.

Jonathan expanded his presentation explaining that technology will also impact on wearables and believes that the device market will be swallowed up by technology we won’t even be able to see.

“In the next 10 years the average size of a computer chip will be the size of a blood cell. There is no reason for anything to be physical.”

Wetware technology (In Veins) – the elements equivalent to hardware and software found in a person, namely the central nervous system and the human mind. Aimed at the billion pound growing digital-health industry, this would mean no longer having to wear a physical wristband, you simply take a tablet which monitors your nutrition and performance with metrics such as heart-rate, macro and micro nutrients, calorie intake, blood-pressure and BMI.

This is a clear example of the level of disruption we can expect to see in the future, as nano-technologies enable humans to be in complete control of their physical and mental output.

The event ended with a panel of experts who were independently asked what they believe the future of sport will be:

Co-Founder and CTO of Tribesports, Andrew McDonough said: “I’m quite scared of the future. One thing that I have found is that the sharing economy doesn’t really work in the Sports Industry.”

Co-Founder of Disrupt Surfing, Gary Elphick said: “The future of Sports Tech is to focus less around the hardware and focus more on the customisation.”

Brand Director at thisisADAY, Alexis Cuddrye said: “Smart materials – focus on the foundations of the products you can make.”

Thought Leader, Jonathan MacDonald said: “Everything will be disrupted. People who think things won’t affect them will be the first to be disrupted.”

Written by Matthew Thoma

Matthew Thoma

Matthew is a Content Editor at Future Sport, specialising in sports business, marketing and emerging technologies.

Matthew Thoma

Matthew is a Content Editor at Future Sport, specialising in sports business, marketing and emerging technologies.