Sligo-based ORRECO Partners With IBM For New Sports App

Irish elite sports firm ORRECO is to partner with IBM on its billion-dollar super computer Watson to build an app that will help sports teams to make decisions on training and treatment for their star athlete to avoid injury and maximise performance.

The Sligo-based company, which is backed by golfers Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, will use data covering 15 years of sport and more than 1,700 elite athletes in the app, called Coach Watson. The company has developed methods to analyse blood, identifying biomarkers that can help monitor performance.

Watson is the world’s first commercially available cognitive computing capability. It can process huge volumes of data in minutes, understands complex questions posed in natural language, and suggests evidence-based answers.

IBM Watson made global news headlines in 2011 after it comprehensively beat human competitors in the US game show ‘Jeopardy!’ The computer program continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time, from previous interactions.

ORRECO, led by sports scientist and co-founder Dr Brian Moore, has developed bio-analytics that analyse blood and other performance data in an elite athlete’s body.

The company currently has 15 employees and 10 consultants with offices located in the Innovation Centre at IT Sligo, London, Galway, and Boston as well as a network of laboratories in the UK, Australia and the US.

“ORRECO is committed to providing holistic solutions to athletes as quickly as possible in order to help them excel while protecting them from potential illness and injury,” said Dr Moore.

“Through IBM Watson’s ability to put real-time sports science in the hands of performance teams, this partnership greatly enhances the speed at which our insights can be delivered to our clients, thereby improving the power, potential and competitive edge of the whole athlete.”

The first client to work with ORRECO and Coach Watson will be the US-based Nike Oregon Track Club Elite. World-renowned head coach Mark Rowland and his staff will use Coach Watson to help individualise training loads and inform planning around competition, travel schedules and recovery plans.

ORRECO works with elite sports stars and teams including golf major winners Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, English Premier League side Newcastle United, F1 teams and in the US, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball teams.

Welcoming the partnership, golfer Padraig Harrington said: “In professional sport there is absolutely no shortage of data. It’s everywhere. The challenge always is in making the data collected actionable. Combining ORRECO’s insights and IBM cognitive computing will make for a very powerful tool and I can see Coach Watson becoming an invaluable resource for coaches and athletes alike.”

ORRECO’s work is centred on bio analytics – the data gleaned from blood biomarkers that helps to pinpoint, monitor and understand a body’s performance and behavior.

Its specialists work with the teams to develop roadmaps that assist in keeping an athlete injury-free so they can spend more time where it matters –on the field of play, golf course or running track.

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