September 4, 2019
“We are more than a reaction time company; we are creating more space for the athlete to be better,” says Okkulo’s Mel O’Connor. His claim is not unfounded.
Mel’s innovative Newcastle business is pioneering a revolutionary, specialised light system, which tests show can improve athletes’ reaction times by as much as 20 per cent.
Using cutting-edge technology, the system – fitted into a dome or tunnel-like structure – creates drills designed to sharpen athletes’ reflexes while gathering data to shape improvement programmes.
With a number of Premier League football clubs already interested in its potential – discussions have taken place that could also see the England national team use the apparatus.
Okkulo’s journey is being supported by Chester- le-Street social media advertising agency Epic Social. Founded by Ben Maughan in 2017, the business is managing video production and will oversee social media promotion for Okkulo.
“I spoke to a few companies, but Epic Social was perfect,” says Mel, pictured.
“They really took to the product and Ben is really forward-thinking.”
Okkulo’s technology was previously tested on local footballers, table tennis players and Durham County Cricket Club batsmen.
“In normal daylight, if I was to throw a ball at someone, their visual system would be 200 milliseconds delayed,” says Mel, explaining the concept behind his apparatus.
“They would still catch it because our bodies are calibrated to work in such a way.
“However, we delay the visual system by another 150 to 200 milliseconds, and it’s the extra calibration that gives the skills needed to react faster.
“We tested the cricketers on a bowling machine, where some couldn’t hit balls at more than 86mph.
“We had them for four-and-a-half hours in our light and they almost all got 99mph.”
Despite such an impact, Mel says it is football where the greatest potential lies.
“Several Premier League teams are interested in using the system,” he says, “and a former European cup winner and premier league goalkeeping coach previously told the National Goalkeeper Conference every team should have it.
“We use the term ‘excel together’, and our software gives coaches extra room to train better- quality players.
“We have created matchday situations and every training session gives an Okkulo score, which is a bit like a golf handicap, so players must be on their game.”
Expanding on the nature of Epic Social’s support, Ben says: “This is a phenomenal concept and our strategy is very much from a business-to-business (B2B) perspective.
“It is a very complex system, so we are producing videos to explain it in an engaging way, while focusing the communications strategy primarily on LinkedIn to meet the B2B audience.
“However, we want to create as much exposure and brand awareness as possible, so we will be pushing content through Facebook and Twitter where we think it’ll work and will be engaging with brands too.”
– Advertising feature –