Business / Tech

'Sports tech' startups gain pace with less than a year to go before Tokyo Games

JIJI

“Sports tech” startups that use information technology to provide new ways to watch sports events and advise athletes on training are gaining attention ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

In Japan, moves to introduce sports-linked IT have been gaining pace. Last year, advertising giant Dentsu Inc. and Scrum Ventures, an investment company with business bases in Japan and the United States, jointly launched a program supporting startups engaged in the sports business.

Twelve firms selected from across the world, including Tokyo-based Ventus Inc., which offers a service allowing people to support teams and athletes by buying digital trading cards, showcased their technologies and ideas at a related event in San Francisco on Aug. 20.

Of them, U.S. display company Misapplied Sciences exhibited technology that allows spectators to watch different images. The firm is in talks for demonstrating the technology at the opening ceremony for the new National Stadium in Tokyo in December.

Omegawave, from Finland, displayed technology that offers effective training plans for athletes, using data including nerve signals and heart rate collected by a wearable device.

The company is set to conduct tests on the technology with the Japan Triathlon Union and Fagiano Okayama, a professional soccer team in Okayama Prefecture.

“Japan’s sports world still tends to like the ‘die-hard’ spirit,” Takuya Miyata, general partner of Scrum Ventures, said, noting that Japan’s involvement would prove meaningful.