Putting Fans into the Minds of Athletes: HeadVantage
The best, latest sports tech gets fans right into the action, drawing them ever closer into the games they love.
HeadVantage is one such tech. The company’s unique embedded eye-tracking technology “puts fans into the minds of the athlete — and the eyes are the windows of the mind,” according to HeadVantatge co-Founder and CEO Jay Hedley.
Hedley recently explained how HeadVantage, an alumnus of Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech‘s 2022 cohort, not only shows fans what players see, but can assist coaches and trainers as they counsel athletes to correct mistakes and perform at their utmost on the court, pitch, and field of play. Hedley was a featured speaker during Sports Business Journal’s 2023 “TechWeek” March 8 in New York. Boomtown powers the SportsTech program.
‘Reading a Course’
The information conveyed by HeadVantage reveals how athletes read a course, he said. An example: Coaches with U.S. Ski and Snowboard, a SportsTech partner, told HeadVantage they wanted to know what athletes were looking at before and after a run. “Is a snowboarder looking up the half-pipe or looking at her board?” he said. “Where is Lindsey Vonn looking when she looks down the course?”
How athletes “perceive the course, and then what coaches can teach the athlete, is the difference between a silver medal and a gold medal,” he said. “It’s that simple.”
Using embedded sensors in the face mask or goggles, HeadVantage captures the x- and y-coordinates of an athlete’s eyes, which can then be superimposed over video from forward-facing cameras, Hedley said. See how it works in this video.
No Longer Guesswork
“What would it be like if a quarterback shows you were his eyes were moving?” he said. NBC Sports said it wanted that level of detail in its broadcasts of football games. “When Cris Collinsworth said the QB was looking over here, he’s just guessing. But if he has this, he can say the QB looked right at the cornerback for exactly this much time, and it’s probably when he threw the interception.”
Hedley was joined in the session by Kevin Schultz, senior director of instruction and lifestyle content with NBC Sports Next’s GolfPass, who described how eye-tracking tech like HeadVantage, coupled with innovative camera angles and positions, can help make golf instruction more informative and entertaining.
“I’m a golf nut, and I was bored by what we do,” he said. “I don’t want to be bored with the stuff we do. This makes it more interesting.”
Hedley said many fans told him they wanted to “be” a certain athlete — they wanted access “inside the mind of the athlete.”
“They are so insatiable for any cool new angle.”