Baseball training company KineticPro Performance and smart fabric maker Nextiles have released the KineticPro Sleeve, a workload monitor and measure of elbow torque and force for pitchers, as part of a new product suite for biomechanical analysis. This is the first true competitor to Pulse, the Driveline Baseball-owned wearable formerly known as Motus.
The KineticPro Sleeve uses Nextiles’ thread-based sensors that measure movement by the way the fabric bends, stretches and twists while also using some more traditional inertial measurement units (IMUs) such as accelerometers and gyroscopes. This 3D motion capture and force data is fed into the Kinnect app, an athlete management system developed by KPP that focuses on pitchers.
KineticPro Performance, which was founded by former minor league pitcher Casey Mulholland, also integrated ProPlayAI’s smartphone camera-based biomechanical analysis into the Kinnect app. The company, based out of a Tampa training facility, previously created the KP Bands, which are resistance bands with force sensors.
NBA Launchpad, the league’s new in-house accelerator, announced its first cohort of technology companies to assist and pilot.
Announced last June, the R&D-focused NBA Launchpad sifted through hundreds of applications from 25 countries to target four areas of focus: ankle injury innovation, elite youth player performance, referee training and development and youth health and wellness. The five selected companies to work with the league for the next six months are:
*BetterGuards, a Berlin-based ankle support device that seeks to offer high protection and national range of motion.
* Breathwrk, out of L.A., which created an app with guided breathing exercises to help athletes wake, focus and sleep.
*Nextiles, from Brooklyn, which makes sensor-woven fabric to track human movement such as the new KineticPro Sleeve for pitchers.
*Rezzil, which is headquartered in Manchester, U.K. and backed by several soccer superstars like Thierry Henry, Gary Neville and Vincent Kompany, created VR programs for cognitive training, rehabilitation and post-match analysis.
*Uplift Labs, whose home is in Palo Alto, Calif., does AI motion capture and biomechanical analysis using only two smartphone cameras, with adoption in MLB, golf and by soccer’s LAFC.
Crypto Gaming United (CGU), a gaming space built on blockchain that allows users to earn cryptocurrency as they play, has announced a partnership with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Josh Giddey — the company’s first-ever athlete partnership.
On Jan. 2, Giddey became the youngest player (19 years, 2 months and 23 days) in NBA history to record a triple-double, surpassing LaMelo Ball’s previous record set last year (19 years, 10 months, 17 days).
Alongside CGU, Giddey will help produce new projects in the metaverse, including wearable tech and virtual events. Giddey’s first co-creation with CGU will be a series of Josh Giddey NFT wearables which the Thunder star will help to design alongside a group of artists.
With this partnership, Giddey joins a growing list of NBA players and franchises to take part in the crypto boom, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers.
Healthcare company Abbott announced the development of a new line of biowearables called Lingo that could have broad implications on health, wellness and sports.
Lingo is a suite of sensor technologies that will help users monitor biomarkers such as glucose, ketones and lactate. In 2020, Abbott released the Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biowearable in Europe, with marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge among the adoptees to track his glucose levels for optimal nutrition, training, performance and recovery.
Kipchoge recorded a segment for Abbott’s CES keynote on Thursday, saying he used the biosensor to track his glucose consumption and no longer had to guess how much he needed to replenish. From the stage, Abbott chairman and CEO Robert B. Ford said the data collected from Lingo sensors “will offer unprecedented understanding of human metabolism that can improve decisions around general health nutrition and even athletic performance.”
Pocket Radar, a velocity tracker and video tool, has signed a letter of intent to acquire software company The Scout Hub, which makes apps for coaches, players and organizations.
Pocket Radar and The Scout Hub both serve multiple sports with a specialty in baseball. All 30 MLB clubs use Pocket Radar in some capacity, and The Scout Hub has developed a Baseball Scouting app that combines objective and subjective evaluations of players. Coaches can customize those reports for their particular needs.
The Scout Hub is also known for its Athlete Résumé tool, which helps aspiring athletes showcase their talents as digital scouting and analytics grow in importance. The Dallas-based company is run by owner Todd Blyleven, who has played, scouted and coached professionally and whose father is Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven. Pocket Radar is led by co-founder and CEO Steve Goody.
Break the Love, a social tennis app that helps players find opponents and court time, has raised a $2.5 million seed round. Break the Love is a graduate of the leAD Sports & Health Tech accelerator. The Lake Nona Fund, which is backed by leAD and the Tavistock Group, led the round.
Founder and CEO Trisha Goyal started Break the Love to connect with other area tennis players. That has grown into an app with support for social clubs, instructional classes and competitive leagues. Based in New York City, the company has branched out to serve other regions in New York, as well as the Virginia-Maryland-DC area, Southern California and Southeastern Florida.
Antler Ventures, Red Giraffe Advisors and Caddie Ventures were the institutional investors, and they were joined by Naomi Osaka’s coach (Wim Fissette) and a former Wimbledon doubles champion (Vania King), among others.
Riddell’s new Axiom football helmet includes a built-in monitoring system to track head impacts sustained by players. The helmet is connected to Riddell’s new InSite Analytics subscription software that allows teams to view head impact data on individual players and position group analysis.
The web-based analytics platform shows how the quantity of team and individual head collisions increase or decrease on a daily and weekly basis. It also shares each player’s load impact analysis and charts that display the frequency of the impact locations, such as the front, top, right, left and back of the head.
The Axiom helmet also offers personalized protection through Riddell’s Verifyt app, which scans the thicknesses, shape and contours of an athlete’s head so Riddell can add interior liner pads to their helmet based on their head images.
Riddell, which was named the top-performing helmet by NFL and NFLPA testing in 2020, will start selling a varsity version of Axiom by this fall. The company then expects to release a youth version after the 2022 football season, with the team price point of each helmet expected to be around $750, though that price does not include access to an InSite Analytics subscription.
At-home boxing fitness company Liteboxer announced the launch of its first virtual reality product at CES in Las Vegas. Liteboxer VR will be available on Meta’s Quest 2 headset.
Liteboxer can be used as a wall-mounted or standing punching device with targets that light up to tell a user where to punch. New features of Liteboxer’s VR product include head-to-head competition, a leaderboard system, controller-free workouts and an expanded music playlist provided by Universal Music Group.
Liteboxer raised $20 million in Series A funding in June led by Nimble Ventures. The new VR boxing product will debut commercially in March and is being displayed at CES, which began Wednesday and ends Saturday. Another available VR boxing option was launched in 2019 by retired boxing star Floyd Mayweather for his Mayweather Boxing + Fitness gym franchise.
Louisville Slugger has partnered with V1 Sports, a video analysis company funded by Michael Jordan’s Black Cat Ventures. The company’s high-speed cameras and ground pressure mats will be added to the Louisville Slugger Hitting Science Center, a baseball and softball training facility opening this year in Louisville, Ky.
V1’s pressure mats contain sensors to measure the velocity and force generated by an athlete during their swing or throwing motion—while cameras in the facility will track movement metrics shared to V1’s software for coaches and players to view. Data will be used to create individualized hitting, pitching and fielding programs for athletes of all levels, with Louisville Slugger expecting to attract youth, college, minor league and MLB players.
The new 26,000 square foot facility will include three bullpens and four batting cages outfitted with V1’s technology, as well as a Bat Fitting Lab to suggest which bat models are best suited for players after analyzing their swing. V1’s mobile app, which is backed by MLB star Clayton Kershaw, will also provide online video training lessons with instructors from the Hitting Science Center.
Premier-tiered subscribers of NBC’s Peacock streaming service will have access to all of NBC’s broadcast coverage of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The app will stream every live competition during the Games, full event replays and the opening and closing ceremonies.
NBCUniversal is the exclusive broadcaster of the Olympics in the U.S., having paid $7.7 billion in 2014 for the exclusive rights through 2032. The company recently shut down its NBC Sports Network TV channel on Jan. 1, a move figured to further position Peacock as a home for streaming live sports.
Peacock launched in 2020 and provided customers with coverage of track & field, gymnastics and men’s basketball at last summer’s Tokyo Games. Coverage also included an Olympic highlight show hosted by Kevin Hart and Snoop Dogg.
Michelle McKenna is leaving her role as chief information officer of the NFL, according to Sports Business Journal. Her last day with the league will be March 31, ending her nearly decade-long stay with the league.
McKenna joined the NFL as its first chief information officer in September 2012. Her tenure oversaw technology projects such as the installation of Verizon 5G’s network inside NFL stadiums, betting data distribution deals with Sportradar and Genius Sports and advancements to instant replay operations through Hawk-Eye. This season, McKenna also helped expand the league’s sensor-embedded mouthguard program to players on 10 NFL teams and four college teams.
“Under Michelle’s leadership, the league’s technology has undergone significant transformation,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a league memo seen by SBJ. “She has led key initiatives that has brought more connectivity to our fans and cutting-edge technology to the game. She has served as an executive sponsor for the Women’s Interactive Network and has mentored many throughout the league.”
Prior to joining the NFL, McKenna worked at Disney, where she spent parts of 14 years in strategic planning and theme parks before finishing up as head of IT at Walt Disney World in Florida. She later led technology at the Universal Studios Resort in Orlando, where she helped launch Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
“NFL Stadiums, to me, are like theme parks,” McKenna told SportTechie’s Tom Friend in an interview on Dec. 22, 2021. “But they’re a lot harder. Stadiums are a lot harder than theme parks. I’ll go on record as saying that.”
Goodell said in the memo that the NFL will soon begin its search for a new CIO.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort