GE to sponsor Brazilian Canoe Confederation

Innovative partnership will pair GE software scientists with athletes to explore how big data can help them optimize their performance for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Rio de Janeiro (RJ), April 1, 2015 – GE (NYSE: GE) today announced it has signed on as a co-sponsor of the Brazilian Canoe Federation (CBCa), which will run through the end of 2016. A centerpiece of this unprecedented agreement will be a pioneering technology partnership that literally brings GE technology inside the canoes of competing athletes. GE scientists will install sensors in the canoes and collect data to measure both the performance of athletes and the canoes themselves during training sessions. The goal is to see how big data can help athletes improve their technique and physical performances they prepare for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Through the power of GE technology, we want to help athletes realize their highest potential as they compete in the 2016 Olympic Games,” says Reinaldo Garcia, CEO, GE Latam. “GE remains committed to making our partnership with the IOC a transformative way to build an important legacy, whether in sport or in infrastructure,” Garcia adds.

This month, GE will conduct research during the training sessions of Brazilian Olympic and Paralympic canoeing teams in the cities of Lagoa Santa (Minas Gerais), São Paulo, Curitiba (Paraná) and Foz do Iguaçu (Paraná). The partnership with the CBCa’s Department of Sports Science, based in the headquarters of the organization in Curitiba, will feature the work of researchers from GE’s first Global Research Center in Latin America – opened in November last year, in Rio de Janeiro, RJ. This work will put the concept known as ‘Big Data’ into practice, collecting and evaluating data in real time.

“We will make use of our knowledge in software and analytics to collect performance data of the athletes in a single system and to analyze all of this information together. What we’re after is helping teams achieve even better  results – almost like having an extra oar in the water”, comments Marcelo Blois, leader of Software & Productivity CoE at GE Global Research Center in Brazil. The data collection and analysis work starts with a system that contains sensors installed in the boat (canoe and kayak) to collect the information. This system features are accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and GPS – all of it used to measure the frequency and intensity of the rowing, and also to detect the location, speed and direction of the canoe.  In addition, the athletes will use a heart rate monitor that sends the information via Bluetooth to the sensors placed in the boat.

“The purpose of the project is that the athletes can optimize their own performance by reacting to this information collected during training sessions”, explains Professor Dr. Heros Ferreira, Director of the CBCa’s Department of Sports Sciences.

All the information collected is transmitted to a host system that operates in the cloud on GE’s Industrial Internet platform. This host system stores and cross-references all the data automatically, providing the operator with a complete analysis and friendly visualization in a dashboard, accessed with a tablet.

Technology advantage

According to Jesús Morlán, the canoe coach of the Brazilian national sprint canoe team, the research will enhance training sessions, giving it corrective and proactive capacity related to athletes’ performance. “This work fits perfectly with the CBCa’s structure and adds an important technological benefit by monitoring the teams’ performance,” says Jesús, who was chosen by the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) in November as the best team sports coach in the country.

“We have gained a highly competitive advantage in our preparation for the Olympic Games. And we have boosted our expectations for winning medals with the support of a large company that is also an important partner of the International Olympic Committee’s,” says João Tomasini, president of the CBCa.

GE and CBCa are looking into evolving the research work to the development of a mobile application for Android operating system, which will allow mobile devices to measure the performance of athletes and canoes and kayaks. This project, that doesn’t have a launch date, will make the solution even simpler and more affordable for different categories, including young athletes seeking to become professionals.

Brand exposure

The co-sponsorship agreement – the value of which will not be disclosed – allows GE to display its brand on the kits and equipment of the Brazilian teams in all twelve CBCa modalities in different categories, including canoe sprint, canoe slalom, canoe polo, rafting and paracanoe – which will be played as a paralympic sport for the first time during the Paralympic Games next year. The contract also includes displaying the GE logo and promotional activities during the confederation’s national and regional tournaments, in Brazil and abroad.

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