The Philadelphia 76ers were Kinexon's first NBA client and have said the technology has helped keep Joel Embiid healthy. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
In less than two years, Kinexon has gone from NBA outsider to the league’s No. 1 provider of wearable technology. The Philadelphia 76ers became the first client back in January 2017, but now 14 of the league’s 30 franchises use Kinexon, according to the company. Kinexon also believes one or two more might sign on before the start of the 2018-19 season.
Kinexon uses ultra-wideband (UWB) radio frequencies to collect data from non-invasive, matchbook-sized transmitters that weigh less than an ounce and fit into a pouch in a player’s shorts. The Munich-based company said its technology can render an athlete’s 3D location with an accuracy of one centimeter. An accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer provide numerous motion and training load metrics.
“Kinexon has the only reliable technology out there to get indoor positional tracking so far,” said Mehdi Bentanfous, Kinexon’s managing director of U.S. operations. “That’s the main reason why several teams are switching from the classical provider to us.”
Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil touted Kinexon last January as providing a helpful gauge of a player’s wellness, particularly for an athlete such as star center Joel Embiid, who has endured numerous injuries. The Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, and Washington Wizards are among the other teams known to use Kinexon. (Contractual obligations prevent all teams from being identified.)
This relative newcomer to the market has made rapid inroads since its launch in the sports market in 2016. (Kinexon also supplies tracking for soccer, hockey, handball, and beach volleyball, and has eyes on the NFL for 2019.) An advantage Kinexon offers clients is the ability to integrate with other tracking technologies.
“Our vision with the Kinexon platform is to combine different data sets,” Bentanfous said, describing his company’s goal to be a “one-stop shop application.”
The vision is to appeal to both strength and conditioning coaches as well as player development coaches. Kinexon’s software dashboard includes cockpits for both fitness and tactics. The tech already supports heart-rate monitoring and a basketball-specific integration with RSPCT, a shot-tracking company. Syncing with video is a possibility in the future.
RSPCT, an acronym for Real Shooting Percentage, uses an Intel RealSense 3D depth camera to provide analytics of every shot. That includes where the shot originates, its trajectory to the rim, and precise location data of where the ball reaches the basket. RSPCT COO Lior Moravtchik said his team connected with Kinexon at the NBA combine in 2017, and subsequently spent about four days in Munich uniting their platforms. RSPCT currently supplies its system to a half-dozen NBA teams.
While RSPCT provides immense detail about the shot, it can’t identify the shooter. Kinexon focuses exclusively on the athlete (although prototypes of basketballs with embedded sensors are in the works).
“Their system knows where the ball is coming from,” Bentanfous said, “and we know who is where at that specific point of time, so we can automate the whole shooting scenario.”
KINEXON Credited For HelpingKeep Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Joel Embiid Healthy
This season, Embiid has so far stayed healthy — and made his first All-Star team. The 76ers, led by Director of Performance David Martin, have long been proponents of sport science, and team CEO Scott O’Neil recently revealed that the Kinexon Sports tracking technology has been helpful in monitoring Embiid to“ more effectively manage his ‘ load ’, which means his practice time and his playing time.” read the whole articlehere
David Martin, Director Of Performance for the Philadelphia 76ers speaking at the 2018 MIT Sloane Analytics Conference in Boston.
Kinexon places wearable sensors between the shoulder blades of athletes and uses radio receptors around the court or playing field to log “centimeter-accurate position and movement data,” according to its website.
KINEXON Managing director Maximilian Schmidt said there are six NBA teams under contract this season — naming only the 76ers, Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks — as well as NHL’s defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins as well as a current installation at Stanford Athletics.
And…if you’re still doubting the cutting edge approach to Blue Star 30…Leigh Klien and company were on hand implementing the latest on floor technology from Kinexon and monitoring each player by sensor and providing real time feedback too by way of performance analytics.