JOHAN Sports is a start-up company that offers precise motion tracking and analysis for sport teams. They are a technical sponsor for ESA Couture in Orbit with students from ESMOD fashion university in Paris, France, using the technology in their concepts for fashion of the future. Co-founder Robin van Kappel tells the story so far.
JOHAN Sports was founded by Jelle Reichert and Robin van Kappel after Jelle submitted the idea of tracking player movements to the European Satellite Navigation Competition and won the prize for “Most promising EGNOS application” just two years after we both completed our master’s degree. Jelle and I met at the Technical University of Delft while studying aerospace engineering, where we discovered we share a passion for sport.
Winning the prize landed us support from ESA and a place in their Business Incubation Centre in the Netherlands. We quickly hired a human movement specialist and started working on a prototype. The JOHAN device is a small electronic pod that uses satellite positioning to track a player’s movement during training or during a match.
Accuracy is key – common running apps on a smartphone will record general tracking information but our system records 100 times a second. For ultimate accuracy the pod has a satellite receiver enhanced with EGNOS technology coupled with an accelerometer and a gyroscope.
To start, we sold our product exclusively to four professional football teams in the Netherlands and the Dutch national field hockey organisation. The data our small pods generate allow trainers such as physiotherapists, physiologists, physical trainers and coaches to create a perfect training schedule and managers to work out exactly when to substitute a player or when a player is in perfect shape for a match.
The long-term information is interesting, too, because it can monitor a player’s progress over many years, charting their progress throughout their career. This is also very interesting for talent development since you can measure exactly whether a player is ready for the next step in their career.
From sports to fashion
Working with the Couture in Orbit project was interesting because we saw a non-engineering approach to our product. These fresh ideas and out-of-the-box thinking can open a whole new market for our technology.
We supplied and explained our product to the students in Paris together with representatives from ESA and let the students get on with their ideas.
It is cool to see the combination of conceptual fashion and our technology. One of the designs we have seen so far integrates our product into a new idea for us: used to detect if the wearer is falling, it could inflate an airbag in the garment. The students’ plan considers its use in extreme-sport such as skiing and also for elderly people.
We are very pleased by the ideas we have seen. Our next step for our company as a whole is to get more clients and open up international sales as soon as possible. We will never stop product development to make it even better and discover new applications, so we are looking forward to the new creations using JOHAN technology in the London Science Museum fashion show on 25 May.