The impact of digital evolution on participation sport


Before the New Year, Head of Technology at Limelight Sports, Steve Dews shared his thoughts on how he sees digital impacting on participation sports in 2016. Here are some of his thoughts:

  1. Big Data and Things

I know this isn’t new, I know that tracking apps, training apps, watches, pedometers, sleep trackers etc… have been around a good few years but this is a juggernaut that will just keep driving on for a number of years yet.

Not only will sales of apps and wearables continue to grow (Statista estimates that 56.2 billion units will be shipped in 2017 up from 43.8 in 2013) but engagement agencies and in turn brands will, through the data these wearables provide, consistently gain greater insight into the participants, their consumers.

By inspiring people to be active and by providing them the opportunities to participate, individuals will be more receptive to a brand’s message especially as the continually captured data helps to shape the message and the content making it increasingly relevant to the individual.

  1. Communities

Small numbers can make a big noise! 

2016 will see an accelerated growth of communities around niche areas. Apps and hashtags will bring together niche communities within the wider sporting community.

We have seen the start of it in 2015 with our own Race the World, where a small number of participants have created huge noise via Digital platforms. Another great example is Swim Dem Crew, the noise generated by their niche community culminated in UK-wide TV exposure in an advert for Android.

In 2016, Brands will exploit these niches and also the space will start to be occupied by apps dedicated to these niches, such as virtual training club:

  1. Swimming

Move over running and cycling, its swimming’s turn to have some fun with tech!

Over the last few years app providers and wearable developers have focused on the sports that are easiest to track, those that can be measured in steps or by GPS such as walking, running, cycling and to a more limited extent open water swimming; and as mentioned earlier these markets will continue to grow.  But developers are now turning their attention to the pool.

In 2015, Kickstarter and indiegogo have increasingly had pool swimming tech projects on their sites seeking funding such as Flyfit (a swim tracking ankle band) and Swimmo (a swim training watch).

As it stands swim tech has been cost-prohibitive for the mass participation market but it is only a matter of time before an organisation makes the breakthrough… and it could be as soon as 2016.


The future future

It would be remiss of me to not to mention Augmented Reality, this will be massive growth area for Digital in 2016 especially with developers already working with Microsoft’s Hololens and several new AR options appearing on Kickstarter. I feel 2016 maybe a bit soon to see its real impact in participation sport. It’ll more than likely make it into the 2017 predictions though!

This article was written by Steve Dews, Head of Technology at Limelight Sports. To read the original article in full, click here.

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