May 30, 2024

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Innovations In Sports And Health Technology

4 min read

Entrepreneur & investor with a passion for early-stage startups. CEO of leAD—a leading sports & health tech investment ecosystem.

As the CEO of a sports and health technology investment company, I track how trends across these industries can create new opportunities for organizations and those looking to enter the market. In the health technology space, I anticipate that artificial intelligence will continue to increase in adoption, and investment in these solutions will likely have a massive impact across the board from staffing to preventative medicine.

Across both the health and sports tech worlds, extended reality (known as “XR”) solutions could transform operational and engagement strategies for businesses across industries. As I see it, companies that prioritize creating people-first experiences will continue to make a resurgence in the post-pandemic landscape.

1. Exploring AI In Healthcare

Still coping with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry is scarce for talent. More than half (57%) of health systems executives anticipate workforce challenges and talent shortages to impact their strategies this year, according to Deloitte. This concern, however, has seen a decline from 68% a year ago. AI is emerging as a dual-force catalyst for potentially addressing challenges in workforce shortages and even detecting diseases.

Companies such as Ada Health, Hyro and ORtelligence (paywall) are deploying solutions focused on workforce optimization and streamlining workflows with automation. Systems like these can enhance efficiency and liberate clinicians to engage in more impactful and meaningful work, which, in turn, can help reduce staff burden and burnout. AI is also being explored to improve patient outcomes and transform early disease detection. For example, companies like Ainnova Tech are working to reshape diagnostic possibilities.

It’s important to note that there are still hurdles to overcome in regard to using AI in healthcare, including accuracy assurance, data biases and privacy concerns. But, overall, these technologies are showcasing their ability to outperform human capabilities in certain aspects. Increased investments in AI solutions will likely drive efficiency, cost-savings and innovation in 2024 and beyond.

2. Evolution Of The XR Landscape

From my perspective, extended reality—a term that covers virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies—is here to stay and poised for growth, particularly with the launch of Apple’s Vision Pro and Meta’s Quest 3.

In healthcare, XR extends beyond entertainment and can be used for training and simulation. It has also been employed as a non-pharmacological approach to pain management. In the realm of sports technology, XR is shaping the fan experience by creating immersive and interactive experiences beyond traditional in-person or televised sports events. A notable example is FC Barcelona’s virtual reality experience, where fans can virtually tour the soccer stadium as avatars and explore the history of the club, trophies, player exhibits and more, according to the football club’s website.

But as curiosity about XR grows, there is a need for more practical use cases to drive mainstream adoption. For today’s consumers, high price points pose a challenge, emphasizing the demand for more affordable, lightweight and user-friendly options. The global XR market is expected to reach more than $111 billion by 2028, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets. The deployment of XR in the education sector and industrial training, as well as developments in 5G technology, are some of the factors driving market growth, the report said. In 2024 and beyond, I expect to see increased interest and applications for XR to continue.

3. Resurgence Of Human-Centered Innovation

Challenging the digital-first approaches of modern companies, a new, “people-first” trend is emerging that emphasizes a human approach to addressing real-world challenges through community integration. While digital transformation skyrocketed during the Covid-19 era due to restrictions, many consumers still want in-person experiences post-pandemic.

From my perspective, companies like Boram Care, which provides in-person aftercare for mothers post-childbirth, and Spartan Race, known for organizing obstacle races, illustrate a trend of prioritizing people over a purely digital focus. (Full disclosure: My company is an investor in Boram Care.) According to Spartan Race’s website, there have been more than 6 million race participants to date.

A people-first approach can be used to shape intentional solutions across sports and healthcare to ensure solutions resonate with communities and address real challenges. At its core, this trend prioritizes people over a purely digital focus, countering the drift toward eliminating personal connections seen in many digital tech trends.

Overall, I believe the continued evolution and adoption of AI and XR will reshape solutions across health and sports technology. As AI builds a more resilient, patient-first healthcare industry and XR reshapes healthcare operations and fan engagement, the intersection of these trends underscores an increasing commitment to people-first experiences and human-centric solutions. I anticipate that across industries, technology that embraces a people-first principle will take center stage in 2024 and beyond.

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