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The 2016 Sports Technology Symposium opened to rave reviews on Thursday, with the first day of the two-day event featuring a panoply of experts from across the sports technology spectrum who were on hand to enlighten and network with almost 500 participants in the Auditori 1899, located next to Camp Nou.
The second edition of the Symposium, which is being hosted by FC Barcelona, consists of a mix of presentations from expert panels, networking coffee breaks, and a lunch break in the VIP area of Camp Nou’s main grandstand.
Thursday’s main topics dealt with the areas of Data Analytics, Innovation, Positional and Tactical Data, Performance Tracking Systems, and Data Driven Strategies.
With the Symposium forming part of the FCB Universities Sport Innovation Hub, Thursday’s opening ceremony was led by Dr. Jordi Monés, the FC Barcelona Board Member and Commissioner of the FCB Universitas initiative.
“Being on the cutting edge means innovation,” he said, underlining the tremendous pressure on FC Barcelona — as one of the top clubs in the world — to win.
"And innovation means knowledge," he continued. "When we don't have the knowledge, we have to go where the knowledge is."
And if Barça can't find it, "we need to generate our own," he said. And, "we need to share it."
Thursday’s presentations offered an inside look into some of the latest technologies used in the world of sport, while also discussing what the future might hold.
Mounir Zok, the Director of Technology and Innovation of the US Olympic Committee, emphasized technology as a tool for facilitating smart decisions made by human beings.
In the past it was all about technology, he explained. But now, he said, “We’ve moved from a technology-centric approach to a human-centric approach.”
In a presentation that seemed to be more akin to science fiction Juan P. Hinestroza, the Director of Cornell University’s Nanotechnology Laboratory, talked about the future role of fabrics in sports. One example consisted of a thin nanofiber textile that can retain heat in sub-zero temperatures like a thick winter jacket. It may seem hard to believe but, in fact, this technology already exists.
“Of course, this material costs about $15,000 per square yard,” he said.
When pressed about how his hi-tech textiles could be applied to soccer, Mr. Hinestroza spoke about smart shirts capable of changing colors and patterns in the midst of a game.
“If a foul is being committed,” he said, pointing to a player having his shirt grabbed by an opponent, the shirt can light up,” thereby making the infraction more visible to the referee.
Coming to a slide featuring a picture of FC Barcelona’s trident — Leo Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suárez — he said: “If someone scores a goal, the shirt can flash different colors” in order to celebrate it.
“The shirt can even contain a special message,” he said, as the room chuckled. Imagine a player scoring a goal and “they dedicate it to their mom.”
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