These 4 Projects Are Helping Gatorade Bolster Its Brand With Technology

From data-based workouts to personalized tweets

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Similar to other athletic-focused brands like Under Armour and Nike that are getting into sports technology, Gatorade wants to be known for more than making sports drinks, and it's showing off some of its most forward-thinking digital work at South by Southwest Interactive.

At the Super Bowl, Gatorade announced a program called Bolt Breakers that challenged four tech companies the brand already works with—Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and CoreSyte—to create digital tools for young, competitive athletes.

Four of the concepts were then tested with high school athletes at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and presented during a SXSW panel on Friday.

"Each one of them were tackling interesting challenges in a unique way—whether it's reading your sweat-sodium concentration to being inspired by music to fuel your performance," Kenny Mitchell, Gatorade's senior director of consumer engagement, told Adweek. "Our intent is to work these, fine-tune them and as the time is right, bring them to market. I'd expect that we have a few that will go out in 2016, and if there's more time that's needed, maybe one or two that happen in 2017."

Here's a rundown of the four projects Gatorade is working on.

Personalized Music Training

In 2015, Spotify launched a product called Spotify Running that creates playlists for runners based on their tempo and consistency.

Using Spotify Running, the music-streaming company's work for Gatorade is called Trainability and measures athlete's lactate levels and heart rate for interval training and recovery.

For interval training, Spotify is creating music playlists that mix high-intensity and low-intensity tempos that match to an athlete's workouts. Athletes will be able to customize their playlists by length, frequency and intensity.

Each playlist is customized to specific parts of a workout—from a warm-up to a high-aerobic phase, and a cool down.

Real-Time Alerts

Bobby Grasberger, manager of brand strategy at Twitter, presented an idea for a social tool called Gatorade Fuel Alerts, which is a platform that sends tweets to athletes with bits of information customized to their personal schedules.

"What you're thinking right now as you're preparing for a big game is not the same thing as the first day of the offseason," Grasberger said.

The Gatorade prototype uses information that Twitter already has on its users—location, time and interests—with Gatorade's data on athletes, which includes personalized nutrition and workout information.

To show what the athletes' tweets may look like, Twitter sent 100 SXSW attendees examples of posts during the event.

"They might look like simple tweets, but they're packed with information that can inform us on what's important," Grasberger said.

Customized Social Newsfeeds

Another involves Facebook's Spark project, which is a feed-minded hub of Facebook posts and videos created by Gatorade.

The content is personalized to athletes and employs several of Facebook's existing tools—like Canvas mobile ads, live video and virtual reality—to create an "off-the-field newsfeed." In one theoretical example, a virtual-reality video shows athletes inside a workout room.

"It's content that we know they're searching for somewhere, but we're bringing it to them easily and making sure that it's the best tool for these teen athletes to use," said Stephen Vallera, Facebook's lead creative strategist. "It's meant to be mobile, it's meant to be in-feed, it's meant to be where they're already spending a majority of their time."

Data-Based Biosensors

Gatorade is also working with a company called CoreSyte that makes biosensors that measure athletes' sodium, potassium, chloride and fluid-loss levels.

The sensors stick to skin like a bandage and track the athlete's sweat levels to recommend how much someone should drink. Once the data is collected, CoreSyte can plug the stats into Gatorade's platform with nutrition and workout recommendations.

"Our idea is to help provide athletes, coaches and influencers with more information so that athletes can perform better," said Scott Ackerman, CoreSyte's president.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.