Kinduct Sports Offering Featured in Dodgers Accelerator Program

Kinduct Technologies made waves in the sports tech world when they were selected as one of ten companies in the Dodgers Accelerator program. But CEO Travis McDonough admits that his company is more mature than many of his fellow participants.

“We have 40 employees, we’ve got many many different clients, we’re across different industries, we have a mature operating system,” he said. “We have now 50 professional sporting organizations that are using our tool and it changes every day.”

The tool, which is known as the Athlete Management System, aggregates data from wearable, camera-based, and even more subjective systems into a single environment. The system includes visualization tools so teams can search for correlations between the data themselves, and a machine learning component to further guide organization training plans. The system gives vital help to organizations trying to understand the massive amounts of data they collect from games and practices.

“There’s been an explosion of ancillary tracking tools on the market today, everything from camera systems to GPS trackers to heart rate monitors to smart phones,” McDonough said. “And all those data sources, as valuable as they are, reside in siloed pockets.”

In addition to the Athlete Management System, Kinduct offers similar services in the health care, wellness, and human performance market (which covers military and law enforcement applications). Their experience in these other fields informs the algorithms behind their athletic products.

“Because we have had the opportunity to start to figure the machine learning side out on the health side, we’re able to cross-pollinate and apply it to the sports market,” McDonough said.

But the operating system and machine learning tools are only as effective as the data they can handle. McDonough said Kinduct works with their clients to incorporate both new and existing sources of data. Their web page lists relationships with camera-based systems including the NBA’s SportVu system, as well as wearable trackers like Polar Global and Catapult, among others.

“We’re very agnostic, and we love to pull in data from as many sources as possible,” he said. “So we are absolutely delighted at the new technologies that are coming out, and all these emerging data sources are exactly what make us more powerful.”

Kinduct counts dozens of sports organizations among its clients — including “more than half the NBA,” according to McDonough — and is working with a few unnamed leagues to manage data across all teams. The obvious differences are there, of course: basketball teams have different expectations for their relationship with Kinduct than hockey teams or baseball clubs. But the varying levels of sophistication across organizations provides an additional challenge, and Kinduct has to ramp up or scale back their offerings according to the client’s experience and comfort level.

“The NBA teams, they put their arms right around technology so we adopt what they use,” McDonough said. “When it comes to other organizations … they’re looking for recommendations by us to suggest ancillary technologies that can do the best job of tracking their players.

From a researcher’s perspective, the fact that Kinduct works with such a large percentage of the NBA is exciting. Deep in their databases is tracking and data, across games and practices, on dozens of elite athletes. McDonough estimated that the average NBA team spent $10 million on players sidelined with “preventable” injuries, repetitive stress injuries arising from flawed biomechanics that he likened to a stone cutter chipping away at a rock. And while McDonough was more than happy to describe how an individual team could combine their various data sources to find potential injury markers, he also stressed his company’s respect for the “firewall” that protects not only each team’s raw data, but also any metrics they build on top to analyze those data.

“It’s almost like we provide a technological apartment building, but each and every team moves their specific furniture and wallpaper in it, and the keys to the front door are locked down so no one can go in it but that organization,” he said.

Still, he agreed that a league-wide approach would be more effective, allowing coaches and staff to spot trends in a wider sample of data that could keep players off the trainer’s table.

“The right thing in the future is for leagues to be able to analyze the data and intervene to make sure the players are playing at their best and reducing injury as best as they can,” McDonough said.

Nevertheless, Kinduct is still dealing with health care data, which is subject to a wide range of safeguards to protect patient confidentiality. On top of that, athletes and the players associations that represent them remain leery about biomechanical data being used against them during contract negotiations. Players associations also objected to earlier iterations of the system that tracked athlete workouts during the off-season as excessive. As a result, Kinduct has worked to produce a system that provides the data front offices are after while remaining as unobtrusive as possible to players.

“For a player, they just want to win games, they want to win a championship,” McDonough said. “And a level of surveillance [during the season] seems to be acceptable by both the players’ association, the players, and of course management and ownership.”

It was announced in August that Kinduct was one of the ten companies selected for the Dodgers’ first annual accelerator program, which will run through a “demo day” November 15. The Dodgers are running the accelerator in conjunction with advertising agency R/GA, who has successfully run a number of similar programs in the past. Described by McDonough as “almost like a business boot camp,” the program offers Kinduct mentoring from a who’s who of sports executives and a chance to get more exposure.

“What we have is a Ferrari in a garage,” he said. “This allows us to open the garage door and have more people see our Ferrari. And people want to drive it, and it’s exciting.”

For now, McDonough and his staff have moved to Los Angeles to participate in the accelerator, and plan to open an office in the U.S. after the program to expand into the American market, especially in the health care, fitness, and military areas that fall under the same “human performance” umbrella as the company’s Athlete Management System. Still, McDonough said the company would remain true to its Canadian roots regardless of its excursions south of the border.

“We’ll always have a home base in Halifax,” McDonough said. “But we need to have a bigger presence in the United States.”

Bryan Cole is a contributor to TechGraphs and a featured writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @Doctor_Bryan.

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