There’s something pretty cool happening at the intersection of sports and technology, and the connection made between a Seattle startup and a Davidson College professor at the GeekWire Sports Tech Summit event last year is a prime example.
Dr. Tim Chartier, a mathematics and computer science professor at Davidson in North Carolina, gave a 20-minute presentation at the inaugural Sports Tech Summit last year on “big data in sports.” Chartier is an applied mathematician who has done work for the NBA, ESPN’s Sport Science, NASCAR teams, and fantasy sports sites.
(By the way, we’re hosting our second annual Sports Tech Summit next month in Seattle — buy your tickets here or below)
Chartier’s talk, which you can watch here, focused on how big data is changing the way teams, leagues, fans and athletes operate across all levels of sports. It caught the attention of Seattle-based startup Athlete Intelligence — formerly i1 Biometrics — which sent employees to the Sports Tech Summit, including CEO Jesse Harper.
Athlete Intelligence initially got its start several years ago selling impact-sensing mouthguards to football teams, under the i1 Biometrics brand. But over the past few years, it has morphed into a data analytics company that focuses more on leveraging information drawn from its own products and others on the market — hence the name “Athlete Intelligence.”
“We are all about empowering coaches and enabling athletic performance and safety,” Harper told GeekWire this week.
That’s why Chartier’s presentation about applying mathematics and algorithms to sports-related data sparked interest for Harper and his colleagues.
“We needed to start understanding the causation and correlation with different data that all the sensors on the market collect,” Harper said. “Tim seemed like a good guy to talk to about that.”
After the Sports Tech Summit, Harper followed up with Chartier and soon enough, the CEO was on a flight to Davidson.
“Once Tim got his arms around the data and understood our vision, it was like a match made in heaven,” Harper noted.
Athlete Intelligence decided to partner with Chartier, funding research that analyzes impact data collected by the company over the past several years. Part of Chartier’s work is about finding patterns and trends in the data — for example, differences in injury rates and head impacts from different quarters or positions in a football game.
“Working with Athlete Intelligence’s data is a treasure trove for our data analytics,” Chartier said.
The idea is to crunch all the data from different devices and churn out actionable insights — or, as Athlete Intelligence calls them, “coachable moments.”
“It’s all about showing coaches what happened on game day and helping them figure out what they need to do differently the next week to get a different result,” Harper explained.
The partnership seems to be going well thus far; Athlete Intelligence just named Chartier to its official advisory board. This fall the company is outfitting Davidson’s women’s soccer team with its sensors; Chartier and his undergraduate researchers will be mining the data for insights.
“The work on biometrics moves my student researchers and I into a whole new area of analytics via biometrics,” Chartier noted.
Athlete Intelligence now employs 15 people in its Kirkland, Wash.-based office. In addition to its Vector mouthguard, the company also now sells wireless helmet sensors and a more lightweight sensor compatible with headbands and skullcaps.