Hamilton-bound company uses GPS and chips to track, train athletes
Tech companies Project1 and Nanolytix building new footprint in Hamilton
Ricardo Sodré's tech company focuses on sports, especially soccer, using devices to gather data to help amateur and professional athletes improve their game.
Sodré's company, Project 1, is relocating to Hamilton and hopes to expand its player-tracking technology into indoor team sports like hockey. For soccer, the company uses GPS technology to track players' movement, acceleration, deceleration, change of direction and jumps. For something indoor like hockey, Sodré uses a chip that a player wears to perform the tracking.
'A trend that's gained a lot of traction'
"It's a trend that's gained a lot of traction in the last 10 years," Sodré said. Part of the reason: Devices to track player movement have become lighter, cheaper and can have more capacity.
Hamilton and Niagara wants to become a hub, or "centre of excellence," in the growing sports analytics sector, it was announced at Wednesday at the Pan Am Investment Playbook Bilateral Trade Forum downtown. A centre of excellence involves collaborations and applications between university researchers and businesses finding applications for innovations.
City marketing coordinator Michael Marini said the sports analytics sector is "largely untapped" in Canada.
"Hamilton will be working to be seen as a leader in this vastly expanding market," he said.
The sports analytics investment will include Sodré's tech company relocating its Canadian offices from Waterloo to Hamilton.
'A fascinating field'
Nanolytix started with developing sensors for inexpensive air and water testing — like a cell phone spectrometer than can be used in developing countries to test water quality.
The company has expanded into sports, developing simple tests of, say, saliva that can be used on-field to test a player's potential dehydration or cramping. The hope would be to help individualize training and target an athlete's needs in almost real time.
That division will be moving to Hamilton, in part to continue working with Sodré and in part to take advantage of McMaster University and Hamilton's health science network.
Saini estimated the sports division would employ about six people in Hamilton by year-end and 15 to 20 people next year.
"It's a fascinating field to be in," he said.
He said the technology may one day be used for drug testing but there are already "gorilla companies" working on that.
"As a sports startup you have to be focussed," he said. "Go into stealth mode — and then you expand."