Each year the government spends well over £300 million in attempt to get more people active. They divvy up a proportion of the cash between grassroots clubs but spend far too much on expensive marketing campaigns, research projects, and theoretical initiatives. Frequently ignored (or misunderstood), is technology; which has the ability to massively increase sports participation levels. Data is now a monetary asset. Tech companies can monitor activity trends, at no extra cost, by tracking the demographics of anonymous users. Advancements in technology have already led to financial savings in many private and national industries, including professional sports. So, why haven’t the same leaps been taken in grassroots sports?
Online Booking: Here at OpenPlay, we are passionate about sports participation. With our bespoke booking system, we make it easier for people to play the sports they love. We have been on both sides of the system, having found it discouragingly difficult to book a five-a-side pitch or play a friendly game of tennis. Our booking systems are bespoke to your club or activity so that every user’s booking experience is quick and streamlined.
eLearning: With the rise of Youtube and fitness blogs, training is no longer restricted to the pitch. For those who fear to be a beginner or looking bad, elearning is a gateway platform from which to spring. In the near future, virtual reality could also revolutionise a player’s at home practice.
Artificial Intelligence: These are still in the prototype stages, but ViShruti, a startup in India, are giving visually impaired people greater access to sports. Artificial Intelligence glasses allow wearers to see, through listening. It works in real time with quick data processing.
Tech often does the work that people used to do. As tech replaces excess manpower, the price of sports activities comes down and sports participation increases. Once established, tech is an inexpensive commodity to run.
3D printing: Advancements in 3D printing will reduce the cost of made to measure equipment and apparel. It has the ability to create one-of-a-kind products at mass production prices. Whilst ordinary players will benefit from a minuscule change of design, those with disabilities will reap enormous rewards. 3D printing can tailor equipment to suit a partial limb or those with restricted movements. This may seem like a far-off reality, but already machines have printed bespoke lacrosse sticks to suit players with disabilities.
Laser: The Santander cycles now beam a green laser light in front of them. Firstly, they look cool and should be renamed the Batcycles. Secondly, they serve a very important safety purpose. The light can be seen from nearly every angle, letting drivers and pedestrians know a bike is approaching. The lasers solve the danger of “blind spots” and have been proven to increase the confidence of cyclists on the road. If only they came with helmets; they might actually be fit for purpose.
Wearables: It only takes 20 seconds of submersion for a child to drown, and one minute for adults. Aquatic Safety Concepts LLC have created a wearable sensor that measures the time of submersion and reports it to a central system, for vital, timely alerts.
Improving the experience
Wearables: Wearables allow players to track their progress and beat their previous performance. Sport is competitive by nature, so wearable devices help to engage and push participants. Wearables are becoming lighter and less clunky. They fasten to your waist, slip around your wrist, or embed themselves into the microfibres of your clothing.
Video analysis: The top players already see video analysis as a vital tool. With video now on your smartphone, every coach can record training sessions and deliver a more thorough breakdown of participants’ game.
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