Winners awarded a total of $150,000 in primetime NFL Network pitch competition
New York – February 2, 2021 – The National Football League (NFL), in collaboration with Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com, Inc. company (NASDAQ: AMZN), today announced the winners of 1st and Future. The NFL’s sixth annual competition, designed to spur novel advancements in athlete safety and performance, aired on February 2, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. ET on NFL Network in the lead up to Super Bowl LV.
Organic Robotics Corporation (ORC) won the top award among four finalists in the Innovations to Advance Athlete Health and Safety category, which featured pitches for products designed to improve player health and safety. ORC won $50,000 for its submission, a Light Lace™ sensor designed to use light to measure muscle fatigue and respiration. The stretchable sensor can be integrated into garments or even helmets, and the information generated aims to help athletes and training staff better assess injury risk factors while optimizing performance.
The runner-up in the Innovations category was Genesis Helmets, Inc.,a helmet company applying its proprietary computational modeling and patented technology to try to create better-performing football helmets. Genesis Helmets, Inc. won $25,000.
The NFL also announced the winners of the Computer Vision category during the show. Computer scientists received actual NFL game data and were challenged to create ways to detect on-field helmet impacts. Nearly 7,800 submissions from 55 countries were received. The first-place finisher was Dmytro Poplavskiy from Brisbane, Australia, whose winning entry uses ultra-high-resolution imagery and data to track and analyze helmet impacts.
“We are energized by all the fantastic pitches we heard tonight and the continued evolution of the 1st and Future platform, new to TV this year,” said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President overseeing the league’s health and safety programs. “The NFL continues to bring in innovators and entrepreneurs to apply their technologies to football. We’ve seen products start on the 1st & Future stage and then appear on NFL fields relatively quickly, and that’s a huge advance for the league and for our efforts to protect players at every level of sport.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, AWS CEO Andy Jassy, and Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald joined the program to discuss how the use of data and innovative technologies are driving new insights into player health, safety and performance in the NFL.
“We see a need to be able to look at all of the helmet impacts and to be able to look at the data that comes from that so that we can create better protective equipment, change the rules and change some of the techniques that are coached and played,” said Goodell during the panel discussion. “We were doing that manually. And by using machine learning, we can do that much more rapidly and make a difference.”
Participants faced off in front of a panel of judges:
- Priya Ponnapalli, Ph.D., Senior Manager and Principal Scientist, Amazon Machine Learning Solutions Lab
- Reggie Scott, Vice President, Sports Medicine and Performance, Los Angeles Rams
- Allen Sills, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, National Football League
- DeMarcus Ware, 9-time Pro Bowl NFL Player, Super Bowl Champion, Founder of Driven To Win and 3VOLT Fitness
- Gary Vaynerchuk, Chairman, VaynerX, CEO, VaynerMedia, Co-Founder, Resy and Empathy Wines
To date, 1st and Future has awarded a combined total of $900,000 to entrepreneurs and data scientists over six years. Former winning innovations were featured throughout the show, many of which are now used in the NFL, such as Mobile Virtual Player (MVP)’s robotic tackle dummy and Protect3d‘s custom protective devices. For more information, visit www.nfl.com/1standfuture.
The finalists in the Innovations category provided the following descriptions of the technology they pitched during the 1st and Future program:
Genesis Helmets, Inc. – Keystone Heights, Florida
Genesis Helmets, Inc. is a helmet company looking to create better-performing helmets using proprietary computational modeling and patented technologies from Mississippi State University, Florida State University and Auxadyne, LLC. The first generation of working prototype Genesis football helmets include a patented facemask, patented foam liner system, unique helmet shell, additive manufactured chin cup and a proprietary heat management system.
Nix, Inc. – Boston, Massachusetts
Nix’s proprietary biosensor platform generates real-time data on sweat rate and electrolyte losses to empower athletes to maintain proper hydration during activity – and thereby optimize safety and performance.
Organic Robotics Corporation (ORC) – Ithaca, New York
ORC’s unique Light Lace™ sensors use light to measure muscle fatigue and respiration. This stretchable sensor can be integrated into garments or even helmets, and the information generated can help athletes and training staff better assess injury risk factors and optimize performance.
GO² Devices / PEEP Performance, LLC – Houston, Texas
PEEP Performance’s GO² device is a patented breathing device that increases the user’s blood oxygen levels while providing the protection of a traditional mouth guard. Version 2 of the device is currently in development and will enable the device to capture data from every breath, analyze that data and give real time feedback on the physiological metrics of an athlete in order to optimize their performance.
About the NFL’s Health and Safety Initiatives
The NFL is committed to advancing progress in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of sports-related injuries. The league’s approach to player health and safety is rooted in the collection and analysis of data to help guide its continuous efforts to understand and reduce injury, and protect players. Data and science are the foundation of the NFL’s efforts to further enhance medical protocols, improve the way our game is taught and played, and stimulate the development of new and improved protective equipment, including helmets. For more information about the NFL’s health and safety efforts, please visit www.NFL.com/PlayerHealthAndSafety.