Determining the risk of injury for every athlete who practices contact sports at the amateur level is a coach’s dream. Lack of financial resources makes personalization of training nearly impossible. Elite NeuroKinetix (ENK) aims to address this issue thanks to its AI platform.
It took four years of research for Ellen Champaign, PhD and medical student, before he could transfer his knowledge to the field. “I studied for four years in the United States, playing football with North Carolina Tar Heels. There I learned about the effects of concussion. I wanted to reduce the risks of sports, and that’s what we do with science.”
Data are in tons
Here as in the United States, Allen Champaign and his team have watched hundreds of footballers for months. Objective: To collect data to feed artificial intelligence.
Thanks to a series of sensors, all movements are meticulously analyzed in order to integrate everything into an algorithm. A system that is ultimately able to target every player’s technical weaknesses. “Whether it’s long or small, fast, slower, stronger, etc., by photographing an athlete doing his sport, we can analyze his movement. Next, our metrics are designed to predict the risk of injury. Our approach can help reduce the number of head impacts by 30%.” Allen Champaign explains.
Democratize personal training
Once the evidence for this approach was well established, this tool still had to be democratized. This is why Allen Champaign teamed up with his sister Pamela, an Entrepreneurial Graduate from HEC Montreal. Together, two years ago, they founded Elite NeuroKinetix (ENK) and also joined Vincent DiStefano and Marie-Michelle Boulanger, McGill psychology doctoral students and experts in athletic development.
We improved the product and created a platform. The principle is simple: after scoring, either by the coach, by the team, or by himself, the player films himself performing specific exercises. Once the images are submitted, the algorithm will issue recommendations that will be supervised by our team members.
Pamela Champaign, Co-Founder, Elite NeuroKinetix
But a machine does not replace humans. “The data will give the coach the opportunity to focus his efforts on preserving the health of the athlete and on the field. It’s a way to give a coach superpowers to improve a player’s performance and technique. AI is not a god, but a tool,” says Allen Champaign.
Focus on other sports
For the team, there is no doubt that their technology can adapt very well to all contact sports – like hockey and lacrosse like rugby – and it’s only a matter of time. They are also convinced that AI is a way to access expertise at a lower cost. “Resources in hobby sports are limited. The co-founder explains that AI is equivalent to having a team of experts around a table, but for much less.”
ENK has partnered with Football Canada and several Canadian amateur leagues. In all, more than 51 teams used its services. At the moment, the platform is free to use. “We want as many people as possible to use our platform, because the more data we have, the more can we improve our jobs. We know we are responding to a need,” identified the entrepreneurs.