First nighttime flag football game between Boston University and MIT

Comment

First nighttime flag football game between Boston University and MIT

We're pleased to share an upcoming event at MIT - the first nighttime flag football game between MIT and Boston University.  Please see the news alert below - and if you're in the area then please come and join us on Sunday night, details below.

News release: 

AfterDark Technologies hosts first nighttime flag football game between Boston University and MIT

AfterDark Technologies, a sports-technology company dedicated to changing how and when sports are played, is hosting the first nighttime flag football game between Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boston University.

 MIT and Boston University represent some of the most respected colleges in New England — and the world. Boston University is one of the largest colleges in New England, boasting 33,000 students from more than 130 countries; while MIT, a university which was founded with a focus and dedication to applied science and engineering, which have since expanded to 32 departments, has a student population of more than 11,300 — comprising 4,500 undergraduates and 6,800 graduate students from across the globe.

 The two colleges’ intramural players will play at MIT on MIT Field Area C, close to 120 Vassar St., Cambridge, on Sunday, October 25, starting at 7.30 p.m. Students, local sports fans, visitors, and technology enthusiasts are invited to watch the game, which will be two 20-minute halves.

AfterDark Technologies seeks to solve the problem of a game ending due to fading daylight with a unique nighttime flag football kit. Incorporating side-firing fiber optics and interactive LEDs, the kit includes lighted jerseys and flags; cones to mark the playing field and end zones; an interactive visual rush countdown on the quarterback’s jersey; and a brightly lit football.

 Launched on Kickstarter, the kit has been prototyped and extensively tested by adults, college students and children aged 6 and up. Test partners include Social Boston Sports, Texas Sports and Social Club, and Santa Monica Beach Flag Football; as well as intramural teams including Babson College and Assumption College, and the children’s league New England Flag Football.

 The kit was designed by Dan Wilson, a flag football player who found it frustrating when games would be stopped short due to the approach of darkness. “It’s frustrating to run out of daylight or to incur the expense and hassle of finding a lighted field,” said Wilson, of AfterDark Technologies.  “We started developing the AfterDark Nighttime Flag Football kit so we could play after dusk and into the evening, but as we have tested the kit and gathered user feedback, we have also uncovered how much fun nighttime gaming is — for players and for spectators — and how much it changes the dynamic of the game.”

Wilson concluded: “We’ve worked with a number of test partners including colleges and intramurals, but to have the opportunity to hold the first nighttime flag football game with MIT and Boston University — two local institutions with global reputations and proven dedication to entrepreneurialism, technology and innovation, is a real thrill. I’d like to thank the intramural managers and the teams for supporting us.”

 

 

Comment

Wearable technology and hoop dreams

Comment

Wearable technology and hoop dreams

As the creator behind a nighttime gaming kit that incorporates side-firing fiber optics and interactive LEDs, I think a lot about wearables – from everyday fitness devices to how wearables are being used within different sports, such as baseball. Wearables are certainly across sports – just consider basketball. If you can’t afford to hire an NBA star to critique your play, then wearable technologies present a number of ways to improve your performance by tracking your shots and misses with wearable devices specifically designed for the court.

The Hoop Tracker is almost like having your own personal basketball coach, in that it views your shooting performance, tracks progress, and shows your strengths and weaknesses. Priced at $199, it offers a shot detector you place on the net rim and mounting pole. The device gets data wirelessly and can sense the vibration of a missed shot, as well. The device’s shooting program ensures that you practice from every area on the court, setting you up for well-rounded training.

Basketball, however, isn’t all about shots. Running speed and jumping skills are also key. Enter Nike.The company makes smart sneakers that use pressure sensors to gather data on a player’s jump heights, intensity and quickness. Working with an IOS app, the information on the fancy footwork goes to the player’s mobile device. Prices range in the mid-$200s.

SOLIDshot by Vibrado Technologies, meanwhile, takes wearables to the sleeve and focuses on a basketball player’s form. It traces the trajectory of the ball, analyzes the shot, instantly refines your form with simple directions, and helps build muscle memory. Slide on the sleeve and play, with immediate feedback via Bluetooth and no smartphone needed. Players can remove the sensor nodes and launder the garment sleeve. Prices in the $200 range.

So if you don’t get slam dunks every time, a number of wearables are there to get you on the right track.

If you want to find out about our wearable technology project, nighttime gaming and how we want to change flag football – a game which has been largely unchanged in almost a century – then please read more about our kit.

 

Comment

“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks” … and some wearable technology

Comment

“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks” … and some wearable technology

We’re all for technology and sports, which is why we developed the AfterDark Nighttime Kit.  But it’s not just football - wearable technology has rounded many sports' bases.  In baseball, for example, there are wearable devices that track batter’s performance and movements that could lead to injury. Here are some innovations that are making a buzz out on the field these days:

Armed with the mThrow. This device looks to curb pitchers’ elbow injuries caused by tearing of the ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL, which usually requires surgery — and keeping a player out of the game for a season. The wearable compression sleeve has a small sensor over the elbow that tracks a pitcher’s arm movements and other data. The data is sent to an app that calculates the stress caused by torque on the UCL. Identifying trends in workload that lead to UCL problems is still in the works by maker Motus Global, in Massapequa, N.Y. The mThrow, which is about $149, is essentially a step up from video monitoring, with great potential in application.

Batter up! It’s Zepp. Zepp is a device that affixes to your bat to help you recognize pitches, improve your speed and time, and build your hitting performance. It monitors your swing and feeds back to an app on your phone via Bluetooth. Athletes can choose performance goals and work on line drives, creating an efficient swing, adding speed and power, or staying long in the zone. Priced at about $150, there are also versions also available for golf, softball and tennis.

 FITGuard’s got your back … and head. A sensor mouth guard product of Force Impact Technology, this innovation helps determine how severe a blow to the head might be, by monitoring an athlete’s injury. It does this by collecting data in the mouth that is in sync with the center of gravity in the brain. After an event, the $50 mouthpiece displays a color-coded LED signal. Biometrics, paired with peak linear and angular acceleration data, helps FITGuard play a role to determine potential concussion.

Even if you’re just sitting in the dugout - or on the bleachers - fitness wearables help improve your performance so you can be at the top of your game. 

Our fiber optic and LED-powered kit, the AfterDark Flag Football Kit, is now available on Kickstarter - check it out to see what wearable technology is bringing to nighttime gaming!

Comment

Wearables: Where physical activity and technology meet

Comment

Wearables: Where physical activity and technology meet

Wearable sports technology almost seems, in some ways, like another dimension to a video game. In our version of wearables, technology lights up the nighttime field and players describe it as ‘playing in the world of Tron.’

For wearable technologies in fitness tracking, the player is us, in real time, working against evil weight gain and inactivity. There are a number of wearable innovations in this area. For example, Chinese startup Xiaomi has created the Mi Band, which in one year, Xiaomi says, has become the second-largest seller in wearables, behind FitBit. It tracks a user’s calories burned, distance moved, and steps taken … even sleep activity. The device is waterproof, can recharge up to 30 days, and has an attractive price point at $14.99, which the company manages by selling it only online.

Timex Sport by Ironman, meanwhile, is a smartwatch that goes a bit beyond the weekend warrior and is more geared for an ultra-athlete. It runs between $40 and $70, tracks sporting times or fitness, speed, distance, and has GPS capability. And don’t let the name fool you: it comes in versions for men and women.

The Sensoria Technology Smart Sock bring runners fitness technology where they need it most — in their feet! Runners wear socks anyway, so why not make them high-tech? The sock is full of textile pressure sensors to track and improve cadence and foot landing in real time. With many running injuries due to improper foot striking and other issues, there are safety considerations here, too. The company website offers a pair of the socks plus a performance-tracking anklet for $199.

Whether you’re banding up, putting on a watch or slipping into some socks, technology can be with you every step of the way on your fitness journey.

Though if you’re looking for a more immersive, fiber-optic and interactive LED-inspired way to engage with wearable technology, then check out our AfterDark Flag Football Kit which we have extensively tested with intramurals, adult leagues, and kids, and have recently launched on Kickstarter.

 

Comment

Don’t guilt your kids into playing outside — light up their world

Comment

Don’t guilt your kids into playing outside — light up their world

I’ve previously written about kids and how much they enjoy going out to play when that takes the form of brightly lit fiber optics and LEDs. One of the challenges of parenting is how to encourage, coerce or guilt your children to go out and exercise, to run around the way we used to, before there was so much access to television, tablets and smartphones.

Keeping children active is becoming increasingly difficult. Between fifth and sixth grade, a child’s activity levels can fall as much as 50 percent, as reported by researchers at the University of Georgia in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The same researchers found that trying to guilt children into going out to exercise doesn’t work.  They found that middle-school students who felt pressured or were not in charge of their own choices were less active.

Each of us knows this challenge. We were all middle schoolers and resistant to adult suggestions across the board: our choice of friends, clothes, music, entertainment, or hairstyle. But when I was a kid, spending time being active was not one of these adult-led suggestions. I got to watch television for 30 minutes, maybe an hour. Screen time was minimal, and certainly wasn’t a phrase that we used and an activity we worried about. Going out to play, being active, participating in sports was a social, fun and available activity.

Now, encouraging children to be away from screens is a challenge. Rod Dishman, one of the lead University of Georgia researchers, asks how we should “put these children in situations where they come to value and enjoy the act of being physically active?"

I know that technology can play its part in getting children to be more active, to address the balance. It can make outdoor play, and being active, fun. Wearable technology — including fitness trackers and smart apps, make us aware of our physical condition. Technology such as our AfterDark Flag Football Kit makes a really fun and immersive experience with fiber optics and interactive LEDs. Check out our kit here.

Comment

Getting your kids out to play

Comment

Getting your kids out to play

When we tested the AfterDark Flag Football Kit, we didn’t just work with competitive adult leagues, social weekend leagues, and intramurals. We also headed out to the backyard and spent time with six- to nine-year old kids.

Why? Because we wanted to develop a nighttime gaming kit that would be used by all ages. Testing the kit with children worked because children know when something is fun and have uninhibited curiosity. At one of our first children’s games, more than a dozen boys and girls, aged 6 to 11, were all eagerly waiting to be fitted up and kitted out with fiber optics and interactive LEDs. The second we got out of our cars with AfterDark-branded bags, we were inundated with questions. “How’s it work?” “Can I switch the colors on the jersey?” “How do you choose the colors of the cones?” “How does the ball light up?”

Once the children were split into teams and ready to go, there was no stopping them.  Blurs of light streaming across the backyard with their parents watching — with a number of parents asking when they could have a turn. We started just before dusk and the game went on for hours — with juice and pizza breaks factored in, of course.

We’ve had great feedback from the adult leagues, social leagues and college players. The kids that have tested our kit love it.

What struck me though is something that one of the parents said: “It’s great to see them out playing because of technology, not sitting down because of it.” It’s true, this is the generation of the digital native — humans who don’t even remember a world without iPads, Android, Xboxes and PlayStations. It’s estimated that the average American child spends five to seven hours every day in front of a screen.

Children find something inherently fun about being out in the evenings, close to dusk, playing — and parents find it fun to join in with them. Find out more about nighttime flag football at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/951441376/catch-the-night-with-flag-football-afterdark.

 

Comment

Tony Stark, 3D printing and prototypes

Comment

Tony Stark, 3D printing and prototypes

Image: Wikia

If you’ve seen Iron Man, you may remember the scene where Tony Stark is coping with a hapless fire extinguisher-wielding robotic assistant. There are days when I feel that way toward some of our 3D printers.

Don’t get me wrong: first, I’m no Tony Stark (if I was we wouldn’t be crowdfunding) and I also appreciate the cost, flexibility and amazing innovation that is possible with 3D printing. The ability to create a three-dimensional object from a digital file has transformed the medical, automotive and aerospace industries, as the cost of 3D printing has fallen and its accessibility has broadened. And that trend is accelerating, as 3D printing fuels the imagination — and the prototypes — of entrepreneurs such as myself.  

But if you’ve ever worked for long periods of time to design and test a new product with multiple components using CAD, 3D modelling and a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printer, you know that alongside the possibilities you will experience frustrations.

There are days when I find myself talking to our 3D printers, almost in the vague hope that they are voice-activated or voice-responsive (they aren’t), or rushing across the room in response to the sound of a potential material jam, or cursing as I blow on my scorched fingers (the temperature reaches 420 Fahrenheit ).

The upside of 3D printing?  We’ve been able to develop, test and redesign sturdy and field-ready prototypes. And when I say “field-ready,”  I mean just that — we have tested our AfterDark Flag Football kit with dozens of children, aged six and up; with college intramurals, competitive weekly flag leagues; and weekend beach leagues.

While I may not be a billionaire playboy or have much in common with Tony Stark, we do have one connection: he graduated from MIT, which is one of our intramural test partners. But while Tony Stark may have had to fight Obadiah Stane, Vanko and the Mandarin, he never had to wrestle with a 3D printer.

As I’m not a billionaire, we are crowdfunding so we can move to injection molding. You can support us and save my burned fingertips by backing us at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/951441376/catch-the-night-with-flag-football-afterdark

 

Comment

Why We Decided to Crowdfund

Comment

Why We Decided to Crowdfund

At AfterDark we’re all about technology, sports and changing how – and when – people play sports.  We’ve designed our AfterDark Flag Football Kit and tested it with a range of field testers including adult flag football leagues, weekend social leagues, intramurals, kids playing in backyards, and leagues that play on beaches. We looked at many different options to raise funds, but we knew that crowdfunding was the place for us to start for a number of reasons. Read more.

Comment

Company Update: AfterDark Flag Football Coming to Kickstarter

Comment

Company Update: AfterDark Flag Football Coming to Kickstarter

It's been a wild ride for the last two years at AfterDark Technologies.  And today we’re at a really exciting stage in AfterDark Technologies’ evolution. We’ve completed our research, perfected and tested our prototypes, found manufacturers and are ready to go to full-scale production in early 2016!   We are thrilled to announce that the AfterDark Flag Football Kit launches on Kickstarter on Friday, October 9.

Comment

The History of Flag Football in the U.S.

1 Comment

The History of Flag Football in the U.S.

At AfterDark Technologies, we think that to know where you are headed, you must first understand where you have been. So, as we embark in the next step of our corporate journey this week, we have compiled a high level timeline of the evolution of one of the most beloved field sports in the United States: Flag Football.

1 Comment

In the End Zone with Pulling the Flag

Comment

In the End Zone with Pulling the Flag

John Hill is the co-editor of Pulling the Flag, a website that offers news, reports and features on the growth of flag football across the UK and beyond.  In this guest blog post, John talks about the flag football scene in the UK and his experience coordinating AfterDark Flag Football games across the UK.

Comment

View From the Field

Comment

View From the Field

Joshua Grey, Head of Santa Monica Co-ed Beach Flag Football, one of the largest flag football groups in the world with nearly 3,000 members talks about his team's experience using AfterDark Flag Football equipment

Comment