11-01-2021 life sciences & health

Demcon acquires JOHAN Sports


Investment in improving sports performance

Nowadays, data makes all the difference in sports, including team sports. Increasingly more data is collected during training and matches using smart technical devices, such as the sensors developed by JOHAN Sports. The new JOHAN V5-sensor is a GPS tracking sensor with an integrated heart rate sensor that makes it possible for teams to monitor their players live. JOHAN Sports entered into a partnership with technology developer and producer Demcon for the development of the V5. This turned out to be such an excellent partnership that JOHAN Sports has now become part of Demcon and in the near future will move into Demcon’s premises in Delft (NL). “This way we combine their technical knowhow with our knowledge of the market, human movement sciences and the data needs of sport coaches.”

Since 2014, JOHAN Sports has been developing systems for monitoring the movements of players during training and matches. The teams can improve the physical performance of their players on the basis of the data collected. A GPS sensor continuously records their position on the field. The current V4-sensor logs all of the data, which is read out for analysis at the end of the match and training. The new V5-sensor, which will be available on the market in the spring, integrates the GPS tracking sensor with a heart rate sensor and makes it possible for teams to monitor their players live. JOHAN Sports will then be one of the few parties able to offer an integrated solution of this nature. The data is forwarded real-time through the new Bluetooth 5 connection, which has a 400-metre reach. JOHAN Sports has extensively tested its tracking and communication technology during matches of football clubs such as FC Volendam and FC Twente. The tests were completed successfully in packed stadiums where the public’s smartphones could have caused interference. The live monitoring makes it possible to start up the data analysis during the match itself, allowing the coach to adjust his/her coaching plan in real time.

Everything under a single roof
JOHAN Sports was looking for a technology partner for the development of the V5-sensor, says CEO Ralph van Baasbank. “Demcon has a great deal of knowledge about the required technology. We felt there were opportunities for combining their technical knowhow with our knowledge of the market, human movement sciences and the information needs of sports coaches. Even though in the current corona period we were primarily located at a distance from each other, the partnership felt right.” So when an investor pulled out, it was a logical step for the parties to intensify their partnership and this resulted in the acquisition by Demcon. “We have since started working under the Demcon banner with five employees and in the near future we will move to their location in Delft. Having development, production and sales under a single roof is a good thing; it makes for shorter lines and that in turn increases the chances of success.”

Low-threshold software
JOHAN Sports currently operates in more than 25 countries with over 125 teams as customer. This is a highly competitive market, says Van Baasbank, who has worked with top Dutch sportspersons as a sports marketeer and developed a fascination for the data that makes the difference in their performance. “We differentiate ourselves on the basis of high quality value-for-money solutions. Currently only a few parties offer the same product we do. This includes live monitoring with integrated heart rate monitoring and the product is affordable for not only professional teams, but amateur sport teams as well. For the rest, the hardware provided by most suppliers closely resembles each other; it is the software we have developed that has made the difference all this time. Our software is written for the non-specialist. Top clubs, such as Ajax and Bayern München, may have as many as ten human movement scientists and data analysts in employ. These individuals are able to interpret the rough sensor data and translate it into training programs themselves. Our software is especially for clubs with a limited staff, who have a fitness trainer or one physiotherapist available for this purpose.  This person, without any knowledge of data analysis, can extract optimal training programs from the data. Our software includes a low-threshold training module for this purpose, developed by our own human movement scientists.


Next Generation
For the time being, JOHAN Sports is aiming at sports such as soccer, hockey and rugby, Van Baasbank says. But applications outside the sports domain are also conceivable, such as healthcare, industry and defense. “It may also be important to monitor the physical performance of people in these segments. But for the time being we are focusing all of our energy on sports. In the meantime, JOHAN Sports has been developing concepts for the next generation, the V6 sensor. This sensor will also be useable for indoor sports. GPS does not work inside and a different position detection technology is therefore required. In addition, the company is thinking about the possibility of combining sensor data with camera images. “That would make it possible for teams to link the data about the physical performance of players to their tactical analysis based on camera images; for example the speed with which a soccer player executes a smart passing maneuver or running action.”

The future of sport
Dennis Schipper, CEO of Demcon, is happy with the acquisition of JOHAN Sports, for business, as well as personal reasons. “We believe the sports & technology market is a growth market and have already accumulated experience with wearable devices for monitoring individual persons. We are now deploying the required technology – such as sensor technology, wireless communications and artificial intelligence – in support of JOHAN. For me personally as a Commissioner of FC Twente it was of course good to see that they found my club willing to provide the testing grounds they needed to test their V5-sensor.”

The FC Twente academy has already experience using the V4 sensor. Ellery Cairo, physical coach FC Twente/Heracles Academy: ‘JOHAN Sports helps us with the optimization of the training planning and with the mapping of the load and the taxability of players. That’s why we’re very happy with the cooperation.’

About Demcon
Demcon (750 employees) develops, produces and supplies technology and innovative products. The Demcon Group has branches in Best, Delft, Enschede, Groningen, Münster (Germany), Japan and Singapore. The company was created as a result of the passion of its founders for combining creativity and technical skills focused on solving complex issues. These issues are of a technological and social nature and generally have a direct or indirect impact on people and their everyday life. Whether this concerns medical systems, systems that monitor our security or sustainable solutions relating to themes such as water and energy, Demcon makes a contribution for current and future generations. In addition to developing technical solutions, Demcon also focuses its efforts on promoting entrepreneurship and investing in talent and education.

More information
For more information, please contact Marleen Markvoort, Corporate Communications Specialist at Demcon, Tel: +31 (0)88 11 52 000 or +31 (0)6 53 80 91 94, marleen.markvoort@demcon.com, or Ralph van Baasbank, CEO JOHAN Sports, Tel: +31 (0)6 24 24 10 92, info@johan-sports.com.

Also see www.johansports.nl.