Finalist 2023

Catapult Sports: Vector T7 (Basketball Athlete Monitoring Suite)

Design + Industry (D+I) / Catapult Sports

The Vector T7 redefines basketball performance tracking, innovatively combining compact design with real-time athlete insights, setting a new global standard.

The Vector T7 by Catapult Sports represents a leap forward in wearable technology for basketball. It offers real-time tracking of over 1,000 performance metrics, offering unparalleled data analysis in a device that is remarkably compact and lightweight (I.E. speed, distance, player load, shot count, detect dynamic movements: turns + change of direction, as well as decipher between sprinting, jogging, jumping + walking). Paired with the Smart Docking Station, T7 addresses the challenges of optimising athletic performance while ensuring comfort and ease of use. The T7 device is transforming how basketball teams understand on-court performance and enhance their athletes' capabilities.

Design Brief:

Catapult Sports and D+I set out to transform wearable sports technology for professional basketball teams. The challenge was to design a compact, non-intrusive, robust, and rechargeable device capable of tracking a comprehensive set of performance data. The device needed to identify + record athlete movements in indoor environments, allowing coaches + athletes to make data-driven decisions to improve training, prevent injuries, and enhance game-time strategies. We needed to incorporate a long-lasting rechargeable battery, ergonomic button controls, LED function feedback, and devise a portable docking station capable of charging 20+ tags simultaneously. To improve athlete compliance the T7 demanded a minimised size + weight, and to facilitate portability a reduction in the size + weight of the Charging Dock. The challenge extended beyond creating a functional tool; it also involved the development of a design language representative of the market-leading Catapult brand. Our objective was a highly operable, cost-effective product optimised for mass manufacture.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

Our process commenced with a comprehensive understanding of Catapult's aspirations and target user needs. The objective was to develop an intuitive, compact, and robust wearable + docking station solution that could thrive in the rugged conditions of professional sports while delivering high-quality performance data.

Driven by a deep understanding of user needs, we prioritised comfort, 'wearability', and precision in performance metrics. We created an array of design iterations, each subjected to intensive testing, including real-world trials with professional basketball teams. The insights gained from these hands-on experiences were pivotal in our design refinement, allowing us to exceed the initial brief with a product that seamlessly integrates into the high-impact world of basketball.

In parallel, we designed the Smart Docking Station, ensuring it was compact + portable, robust, user-friendly, and capable of charging 24 tags simultaneously. The outcome was a synergistic design reflecting the Catapult brand in an aesthetic, efficient package that significantly enhances the user experience and unlocks new insights into player + team performance.

The Vector T7, is a breakthrough in wearable sports technology. Despite being 73% smaller than its predecessor, the device's functionality and user comfort are superior, making a tangible difference to the way teams track performance, prevent injuries, and 'strategise' their games.

By adhering strictly to a professional design process, we transformed a complex brief into a ground-breaking product that not only meets the needs of its users but also elevates the standard of wearable sports tech. It was critical we maintained a stringent focus on design quality, usability, and cost-effective manufacturability, ensuring the T7 design was optimised for high-volume production. This project illustrates how thoughtful design can drive innovation and performance, contributing positively to Victoria's, Australia's, and the world's design landscapes.

Agile development managing interdependencies between Industrial Design, Mechanical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Software Design, User Testing, Compliance + Production.

Design Excellence

The Vector T7, a fusion of design excellence and technological innovation, redefines benchmarks for good design by balancing functionality, aesthetics, safety, and quality. Its compact design, 73% smaller than its predecessor, facilitates comfort and durability in high-intensity sports, ideally positioned either on the athlete's spine or hip for optimal data capture.

The T7 is more than a wearable, it's a game-changer. A rechargeable battery fuels a 6-hour run-time, capturing over 1,000 unique data points. This data, previously inaccessible, empowers teams with insights to enhance performance, prevent injuries and gain a competitive edge. Scalability is embedded in its system, adeptly managing multiple teams with over 200 athletes.

Reflecting the Catapult Sports aesthetic, the T7 dons a sleek matte black finish and unique geometric form factor, encapsulating advanced sports sensors. Despite its refined appearance, resilience is central to its design, ensuring longevity in intense sports scenarios. The quality of material choices contributes to sustainability, reducing waste and cost.

User experience is at the core of the design process, shaped by continuous feedback from professional sports teams. The resulting product not only fulfils functional objectives but significantly enriches user interaction. The T7 has been adopted by numerous world-class teams and organisations, including several national sports institutes, and has helped to elevate their performance and achieve their goals. Catapult technology is utilised by over 3,625+ Teams, across 40+ professional sporting codes, across 137 Countries - with six NBL teams leveraging the T7 suite.

The Vector T7 communicates the power of professional design investment. By setting new benchmarks in Victoria and Australia, it validates how design can fuel a product's ascension to global market leadership, revolutionising sports training, strategy, and performance. This is a testament to the transformative potential of design, nationally and internationally.

Design Innovation

The Vector T7 exemplifies an innovative leap in sports performance tracking. This compact device is one of the smallest in category integrating advanced sports-specific sensors and a high-powered rechargeable battery. Despite its size, it ensures an impressive 6-8 hours of operation, weighing only 17.5 grams, striking a unique balance between form, power, and durability with premium materials + construction methods.

The standout feature of the T7 is its synergy of top-tier hardware + proprietary software. This combination enables the capture of a remarkable 1000+ data points per second per athlete, including metrics such as player load, impacts, acceleration, and positioning. Traditionally challenging real-time data points are now readily accessible, thanks to T7's compact design. This unprecedented feature marks a world-first in sports analytics, paving the way for new performance evaluation opportunities.

User-centric design principles shine through in the T7. Thoughtfully positioned, recessed buttons prevent accidental activation during rigorous activities. The inclusion of an integrated LED feedback system enhances user interaction, intuitively responding to athletes' + coaches' dynamic needs. To improve athlete adoption and compliance T7 can be securely worn either in a 'tortured path pocket' in the athlete's jersey or mounted around the waist, offering flexible usage options to suit various preferences.

In addition, the bespoke Docking Station offers an innovative solution for device management. It simultaneously charges + securely stores 24 T7 devices, significantly aiding team logistics from pre-game preparation to post-game recovery.

With 3,625+ teams across 40+ professional sports in 137 countries employing Catapult technology, the T7's impact is globally evident, with six NBL teams notably utilising T7 technology. The T7 redefines the benchmarks in sports performance tracking, demonstrating how inventive design and optimisation for manufacturing can revolutionise wearable sports technology. The T7 stands as a testament to the transformative power of innovation, providing novel, user-centric solutions + reshaping the sports technology landscape.

Design Impact

The Vector T7, a pioneering sports performance tracker, showcases the profound impact that a comprehensive, collaborative design process can have. Its success affirms the importance of professional design and highlights Victoria's thriving design and engineering capability, both within Australia and on the global stage.

In terms of social impact, the T7 enhances sports safety and performance. By offering real-time, granular data, it allows teams to tailor training strategies, potentially reducing injury and extending athletic careers. Commercially, the T7 is a testament to the power of innovation. With over 3,625 teams across 40+ professional sports in 137 countries employing Catapult technology, the T7's impact is globally evident, with six NBL teams notably utilising the T7 suite. The positive market response highlights Victoria's design prowess and elevates its status as a global leader in smart technology development. This success underlines the commercial benefits of investing in a professional, holistic design process.

With respect to environmental responsibility, we sought to minimise waste and environmental impact during the T7's design and manufacturing process. The device uses mechanical snaps and clips for assembly, eliminating the need for potentially wasteful additional materials, while its robust design maximises product lifespan, reducing waste and resource use over time.

The T7’s design and manufacturing process also demonstrates the strength of Victoria's collaborative and interdisciplinary capabilities. The project brought together diverse + deep expertise from the Design + Industry team—from industrial design to mechanical and electronics engineering. This seamless collaboration fostered efficiency, innovation, and quality, yielding a product that is not just a commercial success, but a benchmark for the sportstech industry.

The Vector T7 development + market impact demonstrates how strategic, professional design can yield solutions that benefit users, clients, and society—the project is representative of the state's capability and helps to elevate Victoria’s design reputation internationally.

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