Innovation in the sports industry is constantly evolving, with activity driven by digital advancements, high-level of social media interactions, broad appeal for immersive sports experience, fan engagement, as well as the growing importance of technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, cloud, data analytics, wearable tech and many more. In the last three years alone, there have been over 48,000 patents filed and granted in the sports industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Virtual Reality in Sports: Virtual game user position tracking.
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 101,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the sports industry, there are 20+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Virtual game user position tracking is a key innovation area in virtual reality
Positional tracking technology uses hardware and software to allow a device to estimate its absolute position. VR experiences can be enhanced by position-tracking technology. It is possible to increase the level of immersion within virtual environments by being able to monitor an individual’s location within a three-dimensional area.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established sports companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of virtual game user position tracking.
Key players in virtual game user position tracking – a disruptive innovation in the sports industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to virtual game user position tracking
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Nike is one of the leading patent filers in virtual game user position tracking. Some other key patent filers in the positional tracking industry include Extreme Networks, adidas, Skyhawke Technologies, and iFIT Health & Fitness. Nike has the largest market share when compared to any other sports equipment company, and is continually coming up with new trends and inventions in the area of sports gear and other paraphernalia.
In terms of application diversity, Extreme Networks leads the pack, while BRP and Neofect Innovations stand in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Huawei Investment & Holding holds the top position, followed by BRP and Active Mind Technology R&D.
Virtual game user position tracking has a lot of advantages, such as being able to show a shift in the user's perspective when they jump, duck, or lean forward. The picture should display hands and other objects. A common criticism of virtual reality is that the user can't see their own hands. This can be fixed by linking the real and virtual universes. For example, by recognising hand position, a programme can allow virtual objects to be moved by touching them. In addition, analysing the positioning over a period can allow the software to detect gestures.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the sports industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Sports.