Israeli organization Hype Start-Up Foundation is offering the world’s greatest tech minds the chance to show off their abilities, Olympic-style. Together with Microsoft and Saucony, Hype is launching the first global platform in tech innovation for sports, with apps and technology geared towards this summer’s Olympic Game in Rio de Janeiro.
Hype’s goal is to create the world’s first wide-scale platform for groundbreaking innovation in sports, focusing on wearable accessories, broadcasting tech, and apps for athletes, coaches and fans. Entrepreneurs, start-ups, and veteran companies are all invited to submit projects that will enhance the Olympic experience for fans, broadcasters, players, and anyone else connected with the games.
Judges will include top figures in the sports and tech world. Among them: Carlos Arthur Nuzman, President of the Rio Start 2016 Olympic Committee Organizing Committee; Daniel Brusilovsky, CIO of the NBA; Avram Grant, former coach of Israel’s national team and of Chelsea football club; Yuval Brown, CEO of Saucony (IL); Mac Freeman, VP Denver Broncos (Super Bowl champion of 2016); and representatives of investment funds and private investors. The winner will receive a prize of €100,000 ($113,000). Ten candidates from six worldwide geographic regions will be chosen to compete for the big prize.
Hype is chaired by Amir Raveh, a managing director of London’s MG Equity Partners Ltd,, and a former lecturer at Ben Gurion University. The organization sponsors numerous entrepreneurship-oriented educational programs, including summer camps and hackathons.
Israel itself is among the countries from which Hype expects strong participation in the contest, since the country has emerged as a leader in sports tech in recent years. In March, for example, tech giant Intel acquired Kfar Sava-based Replay Technologies, which specializes in seamless 3-D video rendering that allows a viewer to see a scene from any angle as it would be seen live – a kind of holographic model of the action, but on a screen. Replay’s “freeD” video format, according to the company, uses algorithms that are able to create 3D-pixels of the entire surface area of a scene to build the scene in real time, based on the 2D image, taking into consideration distance, lighting, exposure, objects in the image, and other criteria. The result is an image that effectively mimics a hologram, allowing it to be viewed in a single scene from any angle that is being viewed.
LifeBEAM is another good example of Israeli sports-tech at work. LifeBEAM hats measure heart rate, calorie consumption, steps taken, and cadence (walking rate and gait data). The information can be uploaded to smartphone apps on devices with Bluetooth compatibility (iPhones, Android and Windows devices, etc.), or to hundreds of other devices such as treadmills/elliptical machines, GPS trackers, bike computers etc. The hat uses an optical sensor that monitors pulse and measures the flow of blood via an LED that determines heart rate from the speed at which blood flows through the veins, via a technique called photoplethysmography (PPG), replacing the bulky and clumsy chest-strap monitors most athletes use.
A third Israeli-developed sports-oriented technology was created by Pixellot, which uses technology that deploys cameras to capture all angles and views of a venue. At a game, for example, the Pixellot devices would be positioned to capture the action on the field, as well as of the crowd. Pixellot’s system allows for video editing and production in the cloud, and the interface allows users to zoom in on any part of the action, and roll that particular segment ahead or back in time – so a viewer could see the changes in the crowd over time. With the system, users can focus on the play of a specific player throughout a football or basketball game, watching them play from any angle and at any moment in the game, and rolling the video clip forward or backward as desired, according to the company.
“While other areas around the world are at the forefront of technological progress, the world of sports has suffered from relative conservatism for decades,” said Raveh. “Our goal is to change this perception. We’ve realized that this field creates a strong bond with the community, especially the younger generation and therefore should draw tens of thousands of people around the world to take part in this unique project.”