Zepp started making training sensors for baseball, softball, golf and tennis in 2013. Now, with a few years of experience under its belt, the startup is ready to break into the world’s most popular sport, soccer (aka football). Today, Zepp announced a new sensor that lets soccer players track valuable stats from the pitch, such as distance covered, total number of ball kicks and how much time they ran, sprinted or walked throughout a game.
The small wearable device, which pairs with a smartphone via Bluetooth, fits inside a leg sleeve that’s part of the retail bundle. In fact, there are two sleeves included in the box, one small-medium size and a medium-large. Unlike its other sensors, Zepp says the Play Soccer version isn’t about the company helping you train with video tutorials or tips from professional athletes. Instead, you’re supposed to use the raw data from the sensor to determine what specific skills you need to improve — all on your own.
To make the experience more complete, the Zepp Play Soccer app (iOS and Android) has a “Team Game” mode that lets multiple sensors connect to the same activity. Here, individuals can look at each other’s stats, have leaderboards and, with help from someone outside the field, keep a score between teams. Zepp says this feature is also good for parents who can’t make it to their kid’s game, as it allows them to get real-time updates.
Once you get sent a link to view the event, for example, you can read who took a shot or scored a goal only seconds after it happened. And that worked as advertised during our demo. Additionally, Zepp’s application lets you record video of the player wearing the sensor, and uses whatever footage you capture to create a highlight reel based on data collected during a game or training session.
As a soccer player myself, the main concern is whether Zepp’s Play Soccer sensor will be comfortable to wear for long periods of time. While I haven’t tested it in an actual game yet, Zepp says it worked with athletes to ensure that the device didn’t induce any sort of discomfort. That’s why, when in the sleeve, the sensor rests next to your calf muscle, as opposed to near your shinbone or another sensitive area.
If you want to try it yourself, the Zepp Play Soccer arrives in stores tomorrow for $99. You’ll be able to get it from Apple, Amazon, Best Buy or Zepp’s own site.