From the Feb. 5, 2014 edition of the Canberra Times
by David Polkinghorne
SPORTS REPORTER AT THE CANBERRA TIMES
GPSports Systems Managing Director Adrian Faccioni with the SPI High Performance unit that was used by the Seattle Seahawks in their championship-winning season. Photo: Melissa Adams
A Super Bowl, a rugby league World Cup, an NRL premiership and a Spanish championship – a small Canberra company tucked away in Fyshwick can lay claim to all four titles in the last year as it positions itself as a leader in global positioning system technology.
And its GPS devices are becoming so advanced they can not only monitor real-time speed, distance and heart rates, they can also record big hits, an imbalance in someone’s gait and also predict when an athlete is at risk of injury.
GPSports was born in Canberra in 2000 and expanded into the American market 12 months ago. The new Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks, are the first NFL team the company has worked with. They probably will not be the last.
Two weeks after the Seahawks knocked the San Francisco 49ers out of the play-off race, the 49ers emailed GPSports to ask about its tracking systems.
Super Rugby grand finalists the ACT Brumbies, the Wallabies, Spanish soccer champion Barcelona, NRL club Manly and the AFL’s Geelong are other teams using their devices.
The brainchild of former track-and-field-coach Adrian Faccioni and David Cameron, who built GPS devices for the Australian Defence Force, GPSports has 12 employees, including former Brumbies high-performance manager Rod Lindsell, and designs and builds its own devices and then creates the software needed to analyse and display the data.
Coaches can pull out their smartphones and check how hard each of their players is working at any point during a session. Monitoring workloads during training allows a team’s managers to ensure the players are putting in the right amount of effort in the right kinds of training.
GPSports international sales manager Damien Hawes will meet the Seahawks next week to discuss their experience of using the units for a year. It culminated in an emphatic 43-8 thumping of the Denver Broncos on Sunday, New York time.
”We entered the US market last year and our first and only NFL client happened to be the Seattle Seahawks, who started using our technology from March 2013,” Hawes said on Tuesday. ”They hadn’t used any comprehensive form of tracking technology during their training sessions, ever.
”The first thing they tried to do was [work out if] the demands of their training sessions meet the demands of the games?
”By marrying those two together, they reduced the injury rates of their players this season and increased the fitness levels specific to the demands of the game.”
The devices have gone beyond being a simple distance, speed and heart-rate monitors.
Now they can determine whether an athlete is favouring one leg, and the impact of any hits. They can also sound alarms that help prevent damage to hamstrings or calf muscles.
On the company’s to-do list is syncing the data with video footage. That way coaches can hone in on a player’s mistakes during a game and determine whether fatigue has played a part.
”We’re actually at the point now where, if a high-velocity, injury-risk alert goes off, then that can indicate the player might get a hamstring strain,” Hawes said. ”And if a sprint or acceleration risk-alert goes off, then the player’s susceptible to a calf, groin or quad strain.
”So the alerts that appear in our software can localise the muscle group that’s fatigued and is potentially likely to get injured.”
Hawes said Australia was leading the way in sports science and that scientists in Britain and Europe were examining how things were being done here. He said US sports teams were almost a decade behind those in Australia in the use of GPS devices.
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