Santa Clara headquartered Mobiplex specializes in mobile and wireless sports performance technology, based on miniature wireless sensors and mobile device apps, that helps athletes improve their skill levels for better enjoyment of the game. The company has received funding of $4.3 million in Series A financing.
Imagine being on a business trip in Alaska, while having the ability to take areal-time golf lesson from renowned coach Mike Malaska from his prestigious training academy in sunny Phoenix; or similarly getting tennis instruction from a marquee coach at the legendary academy of Nick Bollettieri, despite being nearly 5,000 miles apart. Such scenarios are endless and quite real thanks to the convergence of sports performance, VoIP, cloud and mobile technology.
Playing Off People's Passion
Across the globe, people are passionate about sports. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that approximately 16 percent of people aged 15 years and older participate in sports and exercise regularly. Our society is driven by competition, not only as part of a team, but equally through individual sport.
Furthermore, whether it is golf, tennis or basketball or something in between most people seek to improve their game. After all, the better you perform, the more rewarding and enjoyable it is.
Adapting to a Busy, Mobile World
Yet, unless you are a full-time professional athlete who gets paid to train and participate in a given sport, finding time to just play let alone get better is becoming increasingly harder to do. Our lives are filled with work, family and other obligations that limit the time available to hone our athletic skills. Furthermore, the rising cost of personalized training sessions can make regular instruction prohibitive.
Add to that the distractions of today's connected lifestyles, where we are constantly barraged by technology and information, and our sports often take a backseat. But lets not deem technology an enemy. Rather, it is actually the solution. In our increasingly mobile society enabled by technology we can now do more things from virtually anywhere on the planet than ever before. Look no further than Apple's FaceTime, Skype or WebEx as simple examples of how we can easily connect with others in real-time, regardless of location.
Why not take advantage of this technology in the sports performance industry?
Golf: Ripe for Innovation
For its part, golf has taken some early steps, largely driven by the sports increase in popularity the past two decades. Despite mirroring recent economic ups and downs, golf remains a top sporting activity. According to the National Golf Foundation in 2012, there were 61 million people actively playing golf around the world. Furthermore, the average annual spend per golfer is nearly $3,000 in the US, according to Golf Magazine.
As a result, the industry has seen a boom in many new technology-based products and services, such as swing analyzers, video analysis tools and GPS scoring systems. Yet none have quite taken the sport to the next level of player improvement, nor specifically delivered a convenient, affordable way for golfers to effectively get the human instruction they need to improve their skills and better their enjoyment of the game.
Transforming the Practice Model and Experience
Lets face it: golf is a difficult sport. Even the games top professional players Tiger Woods included work regularly with a coach. Yet of the sports 61 million participants, most of them amateur or recreational golfers, only 11 percent have a coach.(Source: National Golf Foundation).
Why? Again, face-to-face lessons can be expensive and inconvenient. Furthermore, good coaches, particularly in a given local area, are scarce. And coaching can be seasonal, due to weather, schedules, and other factors.
There in lays the opportunity for real-time, interactive, remote coaching, where by players can easily and relatively inexpensively receive golf instruction anytime, anywhere, to get the instant feedback they seek.
Imagine a golf world where a player of any skill level can capture his or her swing digitally and engage with a coach who can immediately review and analyze it, while providing immediate advice on how to make the necessary adjustments that will help improve the players shot on the spot.
This is a monumental step from the earlier so-called innovative days of uploading a gigabyte-sized video of your swing to a system and waiting a couple days for a generic assessment and fix via email.Only with real time instruction can an athlete truly see real-time results.
A Win-Win (For Coaches and Athletes)
The development of this new interactive learning platform leveraging VoIP, mobile, cloud and other digital technology is unquestionably a benefit to golfers. Not only does practice become more convenient, feasible, and consistent with a coach of choice, but it also becomes more focused. For example, interactive practice sessions can be recorded and captured in history for review at any time. You can access specific tips from your golf pro on the fly, even during a round and much more. Essentially, your golf coach never leaves your side. The ultimate result is better performance and greater enjoyment of the game.
Yet players are not the only ones who win. In fact, coaches and academies can greatly increase their revenue through interactive, remote coaching. Golf coaching is already a $1.4 billion market. By catching up with technology and meeting consumers where they are at busy, mobile, connected instructors can stay connected to current clients, attract new clients from anywhere in the world and extend the teaching season to year round, with software that helps manage it all. Beyond golf, this can apply to any sport, opening up a world of possibilities to the entire industry.
But perhaps those that stand to gain the most technology are innovators that can blend today's consumer lifestyle and technology to reshape the way sports enthusiasts, professional athletes and coaches interact. The next frontier is here. It is this balance of human relations and innovation that will breathe new life into the sports and technology industries and even beyond.