16-05-2023 life sciences & health

Demcon Johan Sports investigates combined use of heart monitoring and video images


Better injury prevention and faster recovery for sports teams. 

Demcon Johan Sports will be investigating the possibility of combining its new PACER monitoring technology with video images. This sports technology company in Enschede, the Netherlands, will be working together with FC Twente, University of Twente, 360SportsIntelligence and Pro-F Professional Physiotherapy for this purpose. Combining heart sensor and GPS data with video images should provide sports teams with information that contributes to preventing injuries and promotes faster recovery of their athletes.

Since 2014, Demcon Johan Sports has been developing systems for monitoring players during training and games. All movements are tracked using GPS sensors and heartbeats are monitored using heartbeat sensors. The user-friendly Johan Sports software enables sports teams to analyze the collected data and to use the acquired insights to improve the physical performance of their players.

New PACER technology
Demcon Johan Sports recently introduced a new version of its real-time monitoring technology, PACER, for elite sports teams. In addition to the work performed by athletes, PACER also monitors the heartbeat’s recovery and variability: the variation in the time interval between consecutive heartbeats. These parameters provide information about, for example, heartbeat recovery after exertion. This way it provides an extra indicator about the overall condition of an athlete and is of high value as a predictor of the athlete’s health.

Measuring internal and external loads
At Demcon Johan Sports, innovation is not restricted to the company’s own technology, says managing director Niels van der Linden. ‘We also explore opportunities for combining our technology with other sports technologies, such as video analysis. For example, we aim to collect even more useful information about the condition of athletes. This is why we recently initiated a study in which we combine data about the internal and external loads of an athlete.’ The internal load is measured using the heart sensor, which shows how the athlete’s body responds to exertion. The external load – how much work the athlete performs – can be derived from the tracking data gathered by the GPS sensor.


Adding context
To acquire even greater insight into the significance of the data requires information about the game’s situation, Van der Linden continues. ‘This is why we add video images to our data that show exactly what happened and the events that preceded a particular situation. Moreover, the GPS-video combination enables us to track players more accurately as they move across the field. The unique aspect of this study is that the combined data is available in real-time, which enables a trainer to immediately intervene in case of a threat of overload, for example.’

Demcon Johan Sports is conducting the study with the FC Twente professional soccer club together with partners who are pioneers in their field. 360SportsIntelligence in Enschede develops video analyses on the basis of an automated camera system for sports such as soccer, field hockey and baseball. The company will be integrating its technology with the Johan Sports monitoring technology. Sports physiotherapists of Pro-F Professional Physiotherapy, also in Enschede, are already working closely with FC Twente. During the study, they will intensively coach the soccer players of the FC Twente during their recovery and rehabilitation. Researchers at the University of Twente, together with Johan Sports, will be developing algorithms for analyzing the combined data to produce useful information.


Preparing training plans and medical policy

The information from the combined data should contribute to better injury prevention and faster recovery by athletes (for a speedy return to play). The information is displayed in a well-organized dashboard for presentation to involved trainers, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists and movement scientists, enabling them to use this information for preparing their training plans and medical policy. The study will be carried out over a period of three years; the initial results are expected in 2024.

About Johan Sports and Demcon
Demcon Johan Sports was founded in 2014, for the purpose of developing monitoring technology for sports teams. The company has worked together with Demcon for years to develop its sensors and since 2021 forms part of the Demcon group. Demcon (1,000+ employees) develops, produces and supplies technology and innovative products. The group has locations in Best, Delft, Enschede, Groningen, Leiden, Maastricht (Netherlands), Munster (Germany), Tokyo (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 of a technological and social nature. In addition, Demcon also focuses its efforts on promoting entrepreneurship and investing in talent and education.