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A small, affordable, easy-to-use, body-worn data device from Output Sports is elevating elite and amateur athletic performance

June 28 2021 No Comments

Enterprise Ireland-supported client company Output Sports is transforming athletic performance. Using advanced signal processing and machine learning techniques, the company has developed a solution to test multiple components of athletic performance and track training programs with a single wearable sensor. For the first time, a wearable for exercise analysis can provide strength coaches, rehab professionals, and athletes with comprehensive performance data from a single, user-centric, fully integrated system.

The Output Sports performance platform is uniquely evidence-Based, Data-Driven, and User-Focused. The platform was co-developed with 40 sports sites from a diverse mix of the worlds’ most famous sports leagues and regions. The company utilizes interdisciplinary collaboration and unique data-driven tech processes to bring a new level of portability, efficiency, and accuracy to athlete performance optimization.

Dr. Martin O’Reilly, CEO and Co-Founder of Output Sports, is passionate about sports wearables, analytics, and research. We recently caught up with Dr. O’Reilly to talk about the company’s history, rapid growth, successes, and the future of athletic performance.

How did you get involved with athletic data analysis?

I’ve always had a combined passion for sports and problem-solving. I graduated from the Sports and Exercise Engineering program at NUI Galway in 2013. My final-year project there was to develop a wearable system for the analysis of gym-based exercises. This work inspired my interdisciplinary Ph.D. at UCD School of Physiotherapy and Sports-Science in Dublin (completed in 2017), which utilized machine learning to extract maximal value from minimal sensor sets during exercise analysis. At UCD, I was also a part-time lecturer in ‘Neuromuscular and Biomechanics’ and ‘Exercise through the Lifespan’. This all pointed to my being the co-founder and CEO of Output Sports, and am very excited to be building a great team to advance our technology in the sporting field.

What’s unique about Output Sports?

We work to develop a scientifically driven, one-stop tool for athlete performance optimization. This includes the ability to test an athlete’s performance profile (strength, power, balance, speed, mobility, etc.) and track strength training and rehabilitation. We use a single wearable sensor and apply sophisticated signal processing and machine learning applications to the sensor data. The system automatically amalgamates and analyses all the data to ensure that coaches and medical staff truly understand their athletes.

Unlike current athlete testing equipment, the Output Sports system can measure multiple components of fitness such as strength, balance, and flexibility. As many of these tests can be completed using a single body-worn sensor, it brings a whole new level of portability to athlete testing and tracking. 

By collecting unique datasets synchronized with state-of-the-art biomechanical research equipment, the system offers a laboratory-grade level of accuracy using a single senor. This is essential in an elite sporting environment where small margins define success and failure. The collection of multiple components of fitness with laboratory-grade accuracy allows for this information to be integrated with injury and performance data to assess injury risk factors, key performance indicators, and talent identification. 

How did the idea for Output Sports originate?

The idea was developed from Ph.D. research completed in the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science by Co-founders Dr. Darragh Whelan, Julian Eberle, Professor Brian Caulfield, and myself. This work involved investigating how wearable technology could be used to augment strength training and injury risk assessment.

The product has been further refined through working with potential end-users constantly over the past year. The team has collaborated with over 100 strength coaches and medics who work with Premier League teams, professional rugby organizations, and Olympic athletes. Through these discussions, the team has developed an understanding of our end users’ motivations, work practices, and technology experiences. Output Sports products have been designed using this information to ensure that it solves real-world problems. The system is continuously updated and modified to provide more and more value for practitioners.

What brought Output Sports to the US?

In 2019, we collaborated with MBA students from Smurfit business school on the Capstone project assessing the US market for Output throughout our pre-launch phase. Their analysis, combined with our visits to top sporting organizations and conferences in the USA, solidified the US market’s importance in our business planning.

In Q4 of 2020, we completed a US market entry feasibility grant project with the support of Enterprise Ireland and started co-development partnerships with various US sites to aid product/market fit in the region. We are now delighted to have flagship clients across the US, including Major League Soccer Teams (FC Cincinnati and the Colorado Rapids), performance centers including Spellman Performance, Takeover Sports, and Procode. We also do work with some Major League Baseball teams and National Basketball Association teams.

Zach Wilson. Photo credit: Spellman Performance LLC

Why are professional organizations so interested in Output Sports?

We help practitioners radically improve the efficiency and portability of their testing and monitoring processes affordably. We help coaches and educators apply elite-level sports science processes seamlessly and at scale with unprecedented simplicity and efficiency.

Output Sports provides a simple-to-use, end-to-end solution to test and track sporting performance with laboratory-grade accuracy and integrate this data to allow for improved training programs, injury risk stratification, and talent identification. 

The Output sensor is a match boxed-sized device, which makes it very portable for teams and athletes. Whether they’re training on-site or remotely, Output allows them to focus on what’s important – achieving peak performance safely and effectively. It is a fast, integrated system for capturing a wide variety of exercise performance metrics in a valid and reliable manner. Our Hub functionality has been particularly beneficial to schools as the coaches can show students and their parents the progress they have been making.

River Cracraft. Photo credit: Spellman Performance LLC

What does the future hold for Output Sports?

Our long-term mission is to bring the power of elite sports science to a broader audience than previously possible. Ultimately, the Output Sports technology will help athletes of all levels understand and quantify their movement, strength, and power with unprecedented accuracy so they can receive personalized, optimal training plans and feedback toward their performance goals.

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