Technology is embedded in several industries throughout Houston from energy to health care, but technological innovation is also booming in industries you might not expect, including major league sports.
Matt Brand, senior vice president of corporate partnerships and special events at the Houston Astros, recently spoke about this during a live taping of HXTV, Houston Exponential’s online TV show, at The Cannon. He explained how Houston’s MLB team is using the latest technology to improve everything from chances of winning to human performance.
“Technologically advanced companies want to do business with technologically advanced companies,” said Brand. “This has been my mantra for the longest time. And old cats like me need to realize you have to stay current or you’re just going to get passed up."
This can even be translated to baseball, said Brand.
Players, coaches and even talent scouts have been using technology for years. Talent scouts, for instance, would use speed guns and stop watches to track players pitches. Today, scouts simply use cameras.
In the past, the Astros used technology to track where their competitors are hitting the ball, and then adjusted Astros players in the field for the best defense approach.
“In 2014, we led the league in defensive shifts,” said Brand. “Nowadays, everyone’s caught up. This isn’t a technologically advanced thing anymore.”
Brand said the Astros are shifting their focus to try and stay ahead of technological innovations in the field.
“The things we’re developing now in in ’19 and ’20 are the things that are going to help us in ’24, ’25.”
Houston’s MLB team is also using technology to improve player’s performance.
“We have a lot of players who are high-performance machines,” said Brand, “and we want to make sure we have the best technology, and the best care around them with everything from doctors to mental strength coaches to nutritionists to sport scientists, it’s a very expensive machine and we have to take great, great care of it.”
Some technologies the Astros use include soft tissue technology, which enables doctors and specialists to look more thoroughly at what’s going on with player’s muscles by providing blueprints of each athletes muscle health, and then create customized plans to treat every individual player. The Astros are also experimenting with Halo Neuroscience, a brain stimulator that helps athletes learn muscle memory faster, increases the brain’s natural plasticity and activates neurons so they fire up more often when players train.
Brand’s presentation at The Cannon came just a couple of months after Win-Win, a sports tech company run by Houston native and former NFL linebacker Mike T. Brown, announced they company was relocating to the Bayou City.
The Cannon has said this sector - where technological innovation and sports intersect — “boasts a wide variety of potential tracks, including wearable technology, medicine, e-sports, training, ticketing platforms, and everything in between.”
Sports tech is an industry booming in the billions. According a report released earlier this year, the global sports tech market was valued at nearly $9 billion in 2018, and is projected to reach more than $31 billion by 2024.
Learn more about Houston's innovation ecosystem here.