Start-up’s real-time analysis of fitness training helps improve performance and reduce injury

In her spare time, Emma Meehan is a competitive weightlifter so she’s no stranger to the ups and downs of fitness training. She is also a qualified personal trainer, a software engineer and the founder of Precision Sports Technology which has developed an app that helps improve fitness training performance and reduce the risk of injury.

“I was in the gym thinking about ideas for my final-year project at college when I noticed in the mirror that my squat technique was incorrect,” Meehan says. “That got me thinking. Why is there no technology available that could help fix the problem without the need for a personal trainer to supervise every training session?

“I subsequently built the initial prototype as part of my final-year project and my supervisors suggested I create a start-up from the idea.”

However, Meehan decided she wanted some industry experience first and joined Cisco Systems in Oranmore as a development engineer on Webex, Cisco’s enterprise solution for web conferencing. She subsequently spent almost four years with the company, devoting her weekends to developing the Precision Sports app.

Since leaving Cisco to go into the business full-time, Meehan has been working flat out to get the product into shape and the system will shortly begin trials with eight potential customer groups including private gyms, personal trainers, physiotherapy clinics, elite sports teams and academic sports science research institutions in Galway, Donegal, Kerry, Waterford and Dublin.

“At the moment, sports teams’ strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers can spend hours on manual video analysis of their clients’ training. There are no solutions that can provide an athlete with real-time feedback on their movement or their coaches/trainers with quantifiable and useful insights into how their clients are exercising,” Meehan says.

“Precision Sports’ app solves the problem by using 3D camera technology to provide real-time feedback and analysis of the user’s exercise movement technique.”

Meehan is tapping into the existing capabilities of the 3D cameras found on smartphones or that can be plugged into laptops. The system works by showing a series of coloured dots on the body in real time once the app is activated. The dots are based on a traffic lights principle and focus on the joints. If a user is exercising incorrectly and throwing a joint out of line, they get an alert.

Once they have completed their routine, the data from the session is automatically sent to a dashboard where their physio, fitness coach or personal trainer can log in and see how they’re doing. If necessary, they can intervene and change or add exercises to improve outcomes.

To hone her new business idea, Meehan participated in the NDRC’s pre-accelerator at the Portershed innovation hub in Galway and she has also been through Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme for start-ups.

She has recently secured €50,000 investment from Enterprise Ireland through the competitive start fund and is looking to raise more than €1 million by the end of 2023 to finish, scale and commercialise the product for international markets.

“We’re launching phase one into the sports science research institutions for the upcoming semester for data collection and building up the machine learning algorithms. Then we need to build out the AI model, so the system works for all genders, body types and ages,” Meehan says.

“I am now actively looking for a co-founder with commercialisation experience to join me and to expand the team which currently stands at three. We’re targeting fitness and healthcare professionals initially as the system will save them a huge amount of time. They will pay for it on a subscription basis.

“Once that’s up and running we will move into the consumer market and individuals can have the app on their phone and pay for it monthly.”

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