Overview InfoNeil speaks with Oisín from Danu Sports about his role and how we started his journey into the industry.
Bringing an idea to life with Oisín Lennon, founder of Danu Sports
The first seed of Danu Sports “Revolutionary Onfield Athlete Tracking and Assessment System” was planted when Oisín was studying industrial design in Dublin and playing rugby on the side. He never made it far enough to go pro – but he saw a lot of amateur athletes never making it to become professional athletes – even though they had the potential. So he wanted to find an element of professional sports analysis that he could provide to the masses to enable every every ambitious young athletes to get to the levels of a professional if they wanted to.
He brought this idea back to uni where he got to develop it over a year – and the rest is history. Oisín developed a sock that can track and analyze data based on the movement of the athlete wearing it.
Watch the full interview with Oisín below of scroll down for written highlights.
Nexgen: When you were at university, you came up with this idea. Was it more that you saw an opportunity in sport tech or that you had this love for rugby and you just wanted to create a product that solved a problem you identified? Or did you see the growing opportunity within the sport tech industry and the longevity of what this could mean?
Oisín: I think it’s all three. I was in a degree that was very much focused on problems and products. And it wasn’t so much, the sports tech industry or anything like that, or business focus, it wasn’t till I finished and I was encouraged by the boss and the medical company I was working for to pursue it as a business project.
I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of great mentors to help me with that. But I sort of came across something that could potentially help athletes, and it’s not just to help them improve their performances. What became more apparent was two things. One was the massive epidemic of injuries in sport and their huge financial costs, but there was also a huge emotional cost to athletes.
Then outside of that, there was growing evidence that this product could actually have a lot of potential and medical benefits as well.
If you think of gait analysis, you can measure increased levels of a person’s dementia through changes in their gait. In the same way, you can diagnose Parkinson’s. And you can help diagnose traumatic brain injuries and concussion or you can help people recover from severe orthopaedic surgeries.
Even myself, I shattered my knee playing rugby last year. And I’m actually just learning how to run again after having to learn how to walk again. It’s a good experience for me and for the product, because I’m experiencing that whole set of rehab that my product would provide a benefit to people for. As the company grows, and as the product grows, we just see so many potential avenues and how many potential benefits it can provide for people, and different applications in different sports and so on.
X: I’m just going to circle back, because I can’t think of if we got your feedback on the future of sport tech. Where’s it going to be in the next couple of years? What’s the big focus?
O: There’s definitely a lot of exciting trends going on in the sports tech industry. And I think a lot of the big global consumer brands, like Nike and Under Armour, are investing heavily in wearables.
Under Armour has a huge investment now in general sensors for the wearable industry. I suppose one element is the unknown of what’s coming out. And I think there’s going to be some really exciting products coming out that you probably don’t know of just yet. But in terms of revenue and media, I think what you’ll see is things like heart rate monitoring during sports games. You’ll have a player lined up to kick a goal to seal Six Nations and you’ll have his heart rate open on the big screen or on your television, pumping away. So things like this really immersive crowd technology.
There’s a huge focus on crowd engagement and trying to build more revenues by utilising the media streams behind the sports. But also, if you just think of transfer fees and salaries of players at the moment, they are real estate for these clubs, so they’re trying to protect them in any way possible. So there’s going to be a huge amount of focus on any potential wearables that will maximise not just the performance, not just getting back from injuries quicker, and not just preventing them from injuries, but trying to squeeze every bit of juice out of these athletes as possible as well.
X: In terms of the integration and emotion with media and the wearables. Is that element trickling down from professionals into the amateur sphere? Your average runners, your average footballers, that just want to track a little bit more of what they’re doing to improve?
O: That’s definitely a big trend going on from the big players in the sports tech industry. So predominantly, what you’re looking at is the GPS companies. So if you look at Statsports and Capital Sports, they are arguably the two biggest players in sports wearables at the moment. They’re targeting what they call the prosumer. So it’s not exactly the consumer, it’s the prosumer. So it’s basically young, ambitious, talented athletes, or people that want to be the best in their fields.
What they’ve done is that they’ve either developed a sort of cheaper version of their own product, or they bought other companies that have developed a cheaper version of their product, and they’re selling them at a much lower rate to those individuals. And what the reason for them to do that, is because the revenue streams are 15 to 20 times that of the professional sports industry. So I think registered soccer players would account for 51% of being prosumers, so that’s definitely something I think a lot of sports tech industries, or companies will be doing.
X: One last question. What kind of route would you advise someone that wanted to create a product that was relevant within sports?
O: I suppose it’s a difficult question. You don’t have to do product design, to come up with an idea or to develop a product sort of thing. Like when people say, “Oh, you’re a product designer, so you’re an inventor” This is not the case, I’ve just got the skill sets, where if someone has an idea, I can help them turn that into real reality. It does mean I just come up with great ideas out of nowhere.
So I think, a lot of sports scientists or people in academics, and the journey try and focus a lot on sports tech for their PhDs or for their thesis. That’s probably a good route, if you’re developing a product, or you’re validating a product and you’re finding a problem with that product, then you can come up with a solution for it. Or, for example, we are lot of sports tech companies like ourselves – we get PhD students to work on our product, and that’s another route.
We’ve got a link with a University in the UK and there’s a really talented sports scientist there and she’s working on our products and also in an industry focused PhD. So she’s 50% for the college 50% with us – and that’s a way to get in as well.
But if you have skills in analytics or software, I think a lot of sports tech companies are screaming out for those sort of skill sets because especially in Ireland, where you’ve got all the top global companies based here. But that means that it’s really tough to get anyone with that sort of expertise into a smaller company. So we can’t give them the massive benefits that they might get at Google and so on.
I don’t know if that answered again, it’s a tough one. I’d just say, if anyone has a good idea, you know, the technology trends are really exciting. And there’s definitely the ability to develop your ideas.
– There is an increased demand for wearable technology in the professional world of athletes as well as for amateurs
– You do not have to be a product designer or an “inventor” to launch a sports tech business. You can always ask others for help in the areas that are not your expertise
Nexgen Careers Host Neil
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