by Frank Molema | 28 November 2019
With the latest technology coaches get more valuable information, athletes a more purposeful training and fans a more special experience. The track system of the Belgian startup Pozyx a technology company that helps sport advance. How exactly? Marketing manager Michael van de Velde explains.
The comparison between a cow and a hockey player is not one that you make every day. Yet there is an important similarity between the animal and the athlete, certainly for the Belgian technology company Pozyx. The way a cow and a hockey player move provides relevant information for their 'bosses': the farmer and the coach, who can then make decisions based on that data.
"If a farmer sees a cow move differently, it could be a sign that the animal is sick," says marketing manager Michael van de Velde of Pozyx. “The farmer can then keep the cow away from other cows to increase the return on his stock. The same applies to a hockey coach and a player: if the data shows a coach that a player no longer performs certain run lines due to fatigue, the coach can make a substitution.”
Error margin of 10 cm
Founded in 2015, Pozyx currently has 3,000 clients. The company uses the latest technology to accurately record where people (or animals) are located by means of active radio signals. The so-called ultrawide band makes it possible to determine the location of a player or an object with a margin of error of 10 centimeters. According to Pozyx, only a few companies in the world can do this.
"Wifi and Bluetooth are of course alternatives for determining locations, but their error margins make them less reliable"
The start-up, a spin-out of the University of Ghent, mainly has solutions for companies or associations that want to collect indoor data. Van de Velde: “Concrete walls, for example, sometimes make it impossible to use the accuracy of GPS indoors. Our technology solves that problem. We come in where GPS fails. Or, if you want to get GPS, it is not always affordable. Wifi and Bluetooth are of course alternatives for determining location, but their error margins make them less reliable."
Euro Hockey League
Pozyx cooperates with farms, beer brewers and large industrial customers. In addition, in October it joined forces with the Euro Hockey League (EHL), a competition between top European teams. Players and fields are equipped with the Pozyx tracking system. Trainers, commentators and fans will get a better understanding of the game, argues Van de Velde.
"The data get to coaches and the broadcast vehicle in real time, and can be visualized to the viewers at home," explains Van de Velde the benefits to sports fans. “We are also developing an app for stadium visitors so they also get that information straight to their phones. This increases in-stadium fan experience.”
Dutch BMX freestyle championships
In the hope to conquer the Netherlands where field hockey is a popular sport, Pozyx seeks to cooperate with JOHAN Sports. Besides hockey, the company also focuses on BMX. During the Dutch BMX freestyle championships, bikes were tracked using the Pozyx system. This enabled the jury in their decision, as they could check whether the BMX riders had completed the entire course, or always kept to the corners.
For now, applying the technology in football seems a bridge too far. According to Van de Velde, it is not easy to gain a foothold in this sport. “It is not always clear who takes the decisions at a club, which makes it difficult to do business. For example, you meet with someone, but that person turns out to be a straw man and a straw man does not take the decisions. Moreover, there are many personal interests at stake. Very different from B2B: that is to the point, raw, naked and it’s easier to assess the situation.”
"The ball is hit with such force that the radio technology inside is smashed to smithereens"
Follow that ball
With a turnover of almost 2 million Euros this year, Prozyx expects it will make a profit in the future. The company has good hopes it will be able to track the ball in hockey, for example. So far that has proved impossible for practical reasons. ‘The ball is hit with such force that the radio technology inside is smashed to smithereens. Although technically, we could make a ball that would hold up, it does not meet players’ demands yet. We can, however, measure players’ accelerations, which could produce some very nice statistics.”
For more information: www.pozyx.io