By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Remember Peyton Manning frequently yelling “Omaha! Omaha!” during his days with the Denver Broncos? The team was at the line; the former Tennessee great was making his read and finalizing the play.
It was Manning’s way to communicate any changes in the play with his teammates, but Jordon Kestner has a better idea. The professional trainer wants to revolutionize the communications process currently used in sports through the application of wearable technology.
The Meadowview, VA native, who now calls Johnson City home, founded Stealth Performance Communication Inc. four years ago to commercialize what he calls the “Digital Playbook,” using silent communication to revolutionize the way sports are played.
“In the NFL (National Football League), it would eliminate miscommunication, increase plays per game, and get rookies on the field sooner,” Kestner says. “In baseball, it would eliminate language barriers and sign stealing.”
The specific implementation approach varies by sport, but the core idea is the same: improve the communication between teammates.
Kestner told us that the idea came to him as he was watching a game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.
“Aaron Rodgers came to the line of scrimmage,” he said. “The Lions tried to switch players, but they took too long and got a penalty.”
With wearable technology and simple codes, players could receive a signal, along with vibrations, which would tell them if there was a substitute coming in to replace them or if they were going into the game.
“It would reduce the transition time,” Kestner explained.
How does that impact current verbal calls like “Omaha! Omaha!” as a quarterback calls a play, the middle linebacker on defense communicates with his teammates, or a pitcher and catcher decide on the next pitch?
“You would be able to use a three-code screen in football,” the energetic and personable Kestner says. “There are 243 play options with these three simple screens.”
The screen is important in football, but not required in baseball where pitchers usually have three or four pitches they use. A unique pulsating code would be assigned to each pitch.
“I’ve been working seriously on the idea for about a year and a half,” Kestner says. “We have the software that works on Android devices, and we are developing a wearable that is as powerful as a laptop.”
Kestner’s start-up has gained some good recognition. He was selected in 2016 by the HYPE Foundation as one of the top 50 innovative sports technology companies and also was a finalist in the same year in the Tech Wildcatters program.
The start-up’s biggest competitor is a company named GoRout, but Kestner says that “its ability to do play calling is not as good as our technology.”
Sports is not the only sector the company is targeting. Military, medical, and education are verticals they are focused on as well.
In the military area, the company’s technology can be used to eliminate line of sight communication. This will lead to a reduction of friendly fire and result in saved lives.
In the medical sector, doctors and nurses can communicate more efficiently by getting treatment to patients faster. This will lead to saved lives and a reduction in malpractice. An education version, equipped with GPS technology, could be used in K-12 classrooms for everything from digital attendance recording to electronic hall passes to keep-up with students.
“We’ve done as much as we can with self-funding,” Kestner said. He’s set a goal of $750,000 for initial outside investment and is also seeking a $2.5 million U.S. Department of Defense grant.