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‘Video cockpit’ to boost Germany in FIFA World Cup

SAP has introduced technology innovations to the SAP Sports One solution to help the German national football team play at peak performance during the World Cup in Russia.

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SAP and the German Football Association (DFB) co-innovated the video cockpit and player dashboard to respond to the team’s evolving need to analyze and share relevant match data efficiently, putting them in the best position to win.

The video cockpit is a content hub that merges copious amounts of the team’s live-play videos with match and training information from a variety of sources. This enables the DFB match analysts and coaching team to quickly identify patterns and tendencies and craft strategies to address opponents’ potential weaknesses. Using the player dashboard, team coaches and analysts can provide players with easy access to personalized information and videos from their mobile devices in real time. The video cockpit and player dashboard represent the latest features of SAP Sports One, a solution that helps sports teams and organizations digitalize performance management by coordinating all administrative, training and team management, scouting and medical processes.

“We have an incredible amount of data at the German national team that we need to process and share in real time with the trainer, the players and the analysts,” said Oliver Bierhoff, general manager, German national football team. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning play a significant role in football and are an essential part of data analytics. Our experts and the ones from SAP are working on these topics together. We aim to gain a competitive advantage by using the latest technology innovations and we’re glad to work with SAP as the best partner for that.”

The DFB was among the first to recognize the impact that data and real-time insights could have on football.

“The tactical aspects of soccer have become increasingly important in recent years,” said Christofer Clemens, head of scouting and match analysis, German national football team. “This means that coaches, assistant coaches and match analysts are putting more effort into observing and analyzing the various data sources of a game. It is a logical step to use technological innovations – especially from the fields of data analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning – to simplify and accelerate certain processes. Using the new functionalities of the SAP Sports One solution – video cockpit and player dashboard – allows the match analysts to prepare the coaches and players even more efficiently. Additionally, the players receive tailor-made information packages for upcoming matches.”

Since 2013, the German national football team and SAP have transformed the team’s use and processing of data to enhance player performance. Working together, they created innovative solutions that turn vast amounts of data into unique, real-time insights, providing a competitive edge in training and match performance.

“As the reigning World Cup champion, the German national football team is at the forefront of the digital transformation across football and among the first to recognize that data and real-time insights can have a powerful impact on the field of play,” said Stefan Ries, Member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and Chief Human Resources Officer. “Since 2013, the German national football team and SAP have transformed the way the team captures and processes data to inform and enhance player performance. The new SAP Sports One features, video cockpit and player dashboard, make the job of the coaches and game analysts easier, as they have direct access to the information that is essential for the team to win.”

In 2014, SAP developed the SAP Match Insights solution, offering greater insights into team performance on the field, and the SAP Team One mobile app, a mobile application that helps players and coaches communicate and share information more easily. In 2016, SAP introduced the SAP Penalty Insights Web application and the SAP Challenger Insights mobile app, two prototypic technologies providing data-driven insights into opponent tendencies and formations. Using SAP solutions and the resulting insights as an integral part of its training and preparation, DFB has won various international titles, raising its performance on the world stage.

Outlook to the Future: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Technology

Looking ahead, SAP and DFB are already working on solutions to strengthen the development of the next generation of German players. Artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities in match analysis have been identified as key priorities by SAP and DFB. For example, in the near future team officials will be able to identify more easily and quickly complex match scenes and opponent tendencies based on pattern detection and positioning data. As an official partner of the DFB Academy, SAP will continue to contribute its technology expertise by creating training solutions for players and coaches, helping the team in the areas of talent development and player scouting.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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