The Top Trends in Sports Tech (2018)


It was once observed that cosmetic companies ‘sell hope, not make up’ and, as with other hope-led sectors, in sports there is a lot of snake oil sold. It was this, in part, which led us to launch the Sports Technology Awards in 2013.

Our ambition was to create a global entity which recognized and celebrated tech-led innovation in sports that was rigorous in how it determined the best in the sector. Four years, thousands of entries, hundreds of brands, submissions from over 30 countries representing more than 50 sports, we believe we have done this – not least of all in thanks to the industry leading figures and elite athletes who have supported us as judges.

Part of what keeps the Awards relevant is that all categories are reviewed and updated for each cycle. This process has resulted in the management team becoming very aware of trends in the sector. Here are four, exciting examples of what we’ve spotted…

Wearables

The stand-out category for the first cycle of the Awards was undoubtedly Wearables. Industry interest in elite sport was at peak levels but over the past few years several things have happened

  • There is less difference between brand propositions
  • The market has shifted hugely towards the mass market (elite athletes don’t need to be told to take 13,000 steps a day)
  • The professional sports market interest appears to have moved to the new kid on the block - analytics

The wearables market is undeniably thriving; Fitbit is the most popular health and fitness app and boasts 213.6m users in the US alone. For the elite end of the scale clear industry leaders, which constantly deliver exciting, ground-breaking work have emerged, probably thanks to natural market aggregation.

 

Fan Engagement

This is the current hot topic in the sector and has been for a couple of years. As stadiums battle broadcasters, sports vye to stand out and fans get ever more sophisticated, organizations across the board are seeking out ways to grab attention, engage more deeply and, ultimately, attract the consumer dollar.

This area is undoubtedly serving sports well as demonstrated by the unprecedented growth in sports influence and fan consumption levels. However, some things never change, approximately half the world’s population tuned into the 2016 Rio Olympics … via traditional TV!

 

Athlete Welfare

Following on from analytics, we believe this is set to be the next major growth area for sports technology. The subject is very broad, spanning doping, head injury, mental health issues, child protection and equality and those who govern sport have a moral, financial and reputational imperative to address this as a priority. The reason we believe technology has such an important role to play in welfare is that it enables governing bodies – most of which are very process-led – to create a process of care that is demonstrable, universal and measurable.

 

Size Doesn’t Matter

Whilst many regard this as a universal truth it applies fully to the Sports Technology Awards. The Awards attract entries from many of the biggest brands in sport but also from SMEs and Start-Ups – from bootstaps to Series A, and what we have learned is that size is no indication of innovation. 35% of STA winners have been SMEs which have taken on huge industry organizations and beaten them.

As the closing date for the 2018 Sports Technology Awards looms (29th November) we are really excited by what this year’s entries will reveal – and when we know we’ll report back!

Rebecca Hopkins is the CEO of The Sports Technology Awards Group; entries into the 2018 Awards close on 29th November and full information for how to submit an entry can be found at https://goo.gl/PTHkK5 or at www.sportstechnologyawards.com

 

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