Computers, TVs, and smartphones are turning us into sedentary beings. Novusport wants to get us off the couches and make us more active through its real-world fitness game that motivates people to play real sports and share their achievements with friends.
The Houston-based startup is one of the companies that is “gamifying” sports so that they are more engaging, trackable, and fun for weekend warriors. (Gamification is the use of gameplay to get people more engaged with nongame applications). By gamifying sports, the company hopes to make people more healthy.
Novusport notes that 81 million Americans visit sports web sites each month as spectators. But far fewer actually participate. Novusport is a social media game designed to promote participation in sports via a mobile app.
While the rest of us sat in the audience during DEMO, the Novusport guys ran a 40 yard dash across the stage and tossed around a football, to demonstrate the technology.
Here’s how it works. You download the app, pick a sport from among 20 options. Then select an ActivR (a predefined sports goal). You check in at the location, where you will play the sport and bring a friend to record video on the ActivR on your smartphone. You upload the video to validate that you performed the activity. Novusport then calculates your stats and adjusts your Sports Graph (pictured in the phone at right) based on 10 physical and mental attributes.
As you complete more ActivRs, you earn points and medals and build your virtual trophy room. You can share the accomplishments with friends and challenge them. you can discuss graphics, stats and tally points within the network.
Hugo Aguilar, the founder and president of Novusport, said in an interview that he has been obsessed with sports since he was a kid. He wanted to play all of them and was thrilled to watch the Olympics. As an adult, he developed a passion for technology and dreamed of a way to combine those passions. He wants to use tech to help people be the best they can be.
He decided to create a tool that could measure the achievements and unique “sports graph” of an athlete, which others could use as a part of a platform to entice all athletes to try new sports, regardless of talent level. Aguilar showed me the app, demonstrating how it could be used for ActivRs such as throwing a football as far as you can or running a 40-yard dash.
By getting fans to participate in sports, Aguilar believes they can experience sports in a different light, getting people to play with each other and become more active. Novusport has raised $165,000 in seed funding and is aggressively pursuing partners.
Aguilar believes that more and more people will be drawn to sports and logging their performance, partly because of the march of technology. As smartphones become part of our daily lives, “lifelogging” will catch on, where people measure everything they do, and that will spread to sports.
“Can you imagine a high-tech, two-week competition with the top 100 overall superathletes in the world?” Aguilar said. “But to get there, athletes must qualify through Novusport.com. Imagine the possibilities. The future is what we make of it, and we at Novusport are working extremely hard to make our future a reality.”
Novusport’s algorithm measures an athlete’s performance based on 10 factors: Ground Speed, Water Speed, Endurance, Strength, Vertical Jump, Accuracy, Courage, Balance, Novusport IQ, and Popularity. Novusport’s iOS app enables users to create their personal “sports graph” using fantasy sports-style statistics that they can share via social media. The company has partnered with YouthAid and the Olympic tae kwon do Lopez Family to use its platform as an aid in the fight against bullying.
Rivals include Fitocracy, Nike+, and Daily Burn. The company has 13 employees, including Daniell Iturbe, its chief executive and cofounder, who asks you not to “friend, like, tweet or follow me…challenge me.”
Novusport is one of 75 companies and 6 student “alpha” startups chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2012 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After we make our selections, the chosen companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.