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(from left to right) zone14 founders Tobias Gahleitner, Lukas Grömer and Simon Schmiderer © zone14

zone14: Viennese startup offers AI-supported video analysis to football clubs.

Video analysis and statistics are already commonplace at major football clubs. They help to accurately record the performance of players and optimize it in a targeted manner. However, this requires technical and logistical expertise that many smaller clubs cannot afford. Making these useful tools available to all teams, including amateur football, is the goal of Viennese startup zone14. The young company is developing an artificial intelligence-supported, easy-to-use football video analysis tool called "Replay," including its own camera system.

Democratization of video analysis

"It's changing. The older generation, who identify more as 'gut instinct coaches,' don't want to deal with modern analysis. But even they have young and innovative assistants on the team," Schmiderer says. "The younger generation of coaches, on the other hand, is very different. They want to work with data. You notice that even down to the lower leagues. After all, they see their role models sitting on the bench in the Champions League with a laptop."

Together with Lukas Grömer and Tobias Gahleitner, the Technikum Wien graduate had the idea for zone14 - part of the Entrepreneurship Initiative of the FH Technikum - back in 2019. Two years later, they founded a startup that has developed a video system with Al algorithms for football clubs. Their goal is bringing the democratization of match and video analysis in football.

The idea came to the three founders at the end of 2019. The startup is part of the Entrepreneurship Initiative of the FH Technikum. In the course of the First Incubator of the Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws), the three have developed a simple, easy-to-mount 4k plug & play camera system. Customers can then upload the videos recorded with it directly to a cloud via the "zone14 Box." There, the AI processes the videos and makes it possible to analyze games and training sessions online.

FK Austria Vienna is partner of zone14

Together with six partner clubs, zone14 finally developed the finished product Replay, which officially launched on the market on Monday. "It was extremely important for us to develop the analysis tool together with the coaches and clubs that will use our product.",  says Tobias Gahleitner. The startup has cooperated with district league team SV Freistädter Bier, Union Neumarkt from the 2nd division in Upper Austria, and USC Markersdorf and TSU Hafnerbach from the 1st and 2nd divisions in Lower Austria. In addition to teams from the lower leagues, the young company was also able to get Wiener Sportclub and FK Austria Vienna as partners. The clubs provide the data that the analysis tool uses for training.

According to zone14, Replay eliminates the hassle of uploading and downloading and hours of editing individual game scenes. Users can organize marked scenes into playlists and then share them with the team or fans. In the future, the AI will automatically recognize and mark events such as goals, free kicks and corner kicks. The algorithm will also collect not only goals, but also all players, including positional data. From personal running statistics to the average position to the space control of each team, a variety of statistics can be calculated.

2022 Expansion throughout the DACH region

The clubs pay a monthly fee for the use of the software, but receive the hardware free of charge. The data is said to be enormously valuable for football clubs to optimize both tactics and their training. Teams are not the only ones to benefit from the precise analysis. Media platforms, fans and individual players are also showing increasing demand for such tools. 

Zone14 is currently still in its infancy, but there are already initial partners and sponsors in the form of football clubs, the FH Technikum and the AWS. At the moment, the service is only available in Austria, but this should not be the case for long. "For us, Austria is something like the incubator market where we test our product. Already next year we want to expand to Germany and Switzerland. In the future, we can also imagine conquering global markets such as Southeast Asia and even the USA," says Simon Schmiderer.

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Brutkasten.com Article - zone14

ZONE14: Football data startup that cooperates with Austria Vienna and Wiener Sportklub

The Viennese startup zone14 wants to bring video analysis and statistics like in the Champions League to Austria's soccer fields. And since its young existence, it already has well-known partners.

Perhaps some football fans can remember "legendary" football discussions on TV, when veteran ex-footballers and coaches of the time philosophized about why Austria's football was so unsuccessful. Some of the "old guard" accused the young players of playing too much on the Playstation and no longer spending time outside climbing trees. One former coach even said that "tactics are overrated" and the expression "laptop coach" became a slur. Today, however, it is precisely those data fetishists like Jürgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola or even Thomas Tuchel who are shaping football. Simon Schmiderer, the founder of zone14, is well aware of this.

Less gut feeling, more data

"It's changing. The older generation, who identify more as 'gut instinct coaches,' don't want to deal with modern analysis. But even they have young and innovative assistants on the team," Schmiderer says. "The younger generation of coaches, on the other hand, is very different. They want to work with data. You notice that even down to the lower leagues. After all, they see their role models sitting on the bench in the Champions League with a laptop."

Together with Lukas Grömer and Tobias Gahleitner, the Technikum Wien graduate had the idea for zone14 - part of the Entrepreneurship Initiative of the FH Technikum - back in 2019. Two years later, they founded a startup that has developed a video system with Al algorithms for football clubs. Their goal is bringing the democratization of match and video analysis in football.

Zone14 founder relies on automation

"With zone14, we want to build a brand that stands for innovative and uncomplicated video and data analysis. After all, coaches often sacrifice parts of their free time for it - so it's only fair to have a tool in hand with which analyses are possible without much extra effort," explains Simon. "Until now, 'event' and performance data of players was often tracked by hand. 'Alaba to Casemiro, long pass to Ronaldo. He crosses. We thought to ourselves that it must be possible to automate this."

So the team turned to AI and computer vision to develop algorithms. But then ran into a complication relatively quickly. There was no video footage available for lower leagues. "That meant for us, before we build the algorithm, we first have to develop a camera system," Schmiderer continued. "Our goal was for clubs to have access to professional video that they could process quickly. Many coaches in the lower leagues do their job part-time and don't have the time to sift through the recorded footage for important scenes, post-process and edit. That was the big 'pain point' we had to resolve."

4k Plug&Play camera system for football

While the startup was still in the AWS First Incubator, an easy-to-mount 4k plug-and-play camera system was developed. The recorded videos are then uploaded directly to a cloud via the zone14 box. There, the videos are processed and the trainer can analyze games and units online. The cameras are connected to the box via a LAN cable, and the box to the Internet via the club's W-LAN. Alternatively, tzone14 can also provide a mobile network connection.

(c) ZONE14- The AI of zone14 will soon automatically recognize players even in confused game situations like corner kicks or scrambles in the penalty area.

The system also allows coaches to 'tag' and mark chances, actions, throw-ins or corner kicks "live" right during the game. Tagged scenes can then be organized into playlists and then shared with the team or fans. In the future, important game situations such as goals, free kicks and corner kicks, as well as players, will be automatically recognized and "tagged" by artificial intelligence.

Austria Vienna and Wiener Sportklub

In developing the software, the startup worked with six partner clubs - district league club SV Freistädter Bier, Union Neumarkt from the 2nd class league in Upper Austria, and USC Markersdorf and TSU Hafnerbach from the 1st and 2nd classes in Lower Austria, as well as a regional league club Wiener Sportklub and a Bundesliga club Austria Vienna. Of course, the Violets have their own camera system using which zone14 helps to track and visualize various data of the players.

"We see ourselves as a 'provider' for all clubs. Also for those that play a little further down the league pyramid, in youth or also in women's soccer. There's a lot of potential there. We see that people want to work more professionally," explains Schmiderer.

A lot of potential from zone14

The founder knows that his system is also applicable to other areas, to other team sports for example, but also in retail or other industries. "We have decided against it at the moment, however, but have spoken with the people in charge at Schönbrunn palace, for example. We could be used to find out how the animals travel in the cage," Schmiderer continues.

However, zone14's next goals include collecting feedback once after the launch on September 13, 2021 working on updates and features, improving player recognition in parallel, having the first running data of players ready by the end of the year, visualizing "heat maps" and spatial control and, in the long term, supporting Austrian football in digitalization.

Schmiderer concludes, "We don't see ourselves as Robin Hoods now, but narrowing the gap between the big players in football and the grassroots - the amateur clubs - is a vision that drives us massively."

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THE BIRTH OF ZONE14

THE BIRTH OF ZONE14

We are beyond happy to inform you that our start up zone14 has been launched. Our goal is to democratize football and performance data. Replay. Analysis. Win. We would like to thank our freinds, mentors, partner associations, companies and critics who always challenge us with new ideas and supported us through these challenging times, without whom we would not be where we are today.

zone14

OUR VISION

→ More and more often, fans complain that football has lost touch with the grassroots. Players‘ salaries in the millions, billions in TV money flowing in, and transfer sums beyond 100 million euros. The fan is often seen only as a consumer. The gap is widening.

→ Although the financial resources in grassroot football are much lower compared to professional football, the desire for analysis from TV, professionalization and constant development is greater than ever among clubs.

→ But the gap is also widening in professional football itself. To remain competitive, clubs are forced to apply the latest training methods, generate more data and draw conclusions from it.

→ At zone14, we help coaches and analysts to focus on their core competencies – improving their teams and finding creative solutions and tactics – without much effort, using state-of-the-art technology and user-friendly tools. Clubs can offer their fans an even better experience through beautiful and successful football. Become part of our journey!

Feel free to give us a follow on our social media accounts, find out more about us and our ways of unlocking the next level of football analysis.

MEET THE TEAM

zone14

Lukas Gromer – Product & Data Science

Luk’s experience in machine learning, AI and contributing to open source computer vision projects. At zone14 he finally can combine his passion for AI and football, creating products that make people’s lives easier.

Tobias Gahleitner – Hardware & Operations

Tobi’s expertise lies in the field of Hard- and Software development in distributed Systems and patient-driven support-system-development. At zone14, Tobias combines his broad technical skills and great interest in sports and talent development.

zone14
zone14

Simon Schmiderer – Business & Sports

Last but not least, Simon’s long-standing experience in the field of marketing and his broad network through events and sports in combination with his technical and football affinity, Simon will be substantially responsible for the success of zone14.

ZONE14 REPLAY

Thanks to zone14 REPLAY , video analysis and evaluations in football has never been easier. You get a perfect video from every game. There, crucial scenes can be marked quickly and efficiently and saved in playlists. In addition, we develop intelligent algorithms that recognize players, routes and all events on the pitch and present them clearly for you.

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