Date Published: 14-03-2015

You’re probably used to hearing about McLaren upgrading its Formula One cars, but what about upgrading people? That’s what McLaren Applied Technologies has been set up to do. The department works with medical companies as well as sports teams, using analytics to try to understand where improvements can be made.


Geoff McGrath, head of the new division, gave a talk at SXSW Interactive and discussed how the company uses data to examine athletes’ performance. “We understand data, remote analytics, and monitoring,” he said, “but the real value is in the actionable intelligence you extract from that data.”


McGrath and his team have worked with a range of clients, from GlaxoSmithKline to the England Rugby team. Across the board their aim is to use a variety of sensors and tracking systems to analyse health and performance, with a view to improving both.


Mclaren_logo_2McLaren Applied Technologies have worked with pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline since 2011. Of particular use is their expertise in processing large amounts of data. According to their website, the McLaren Formula One team will collect more than a billion data points during a grand prix weekend. The ability to handle this much information and crunch the numbers to deliver meaningful results has translated well to the medical sphere.  GSK can now collect patient data in real time and run continuous evaluation. This enables them to have a deeper understanding of patients during clinical trials.


Working with the England Rugby Team allowed McLaren to refine their approach, reducing the number of sensors used in order to harvest more targeted data. By doing this they are able to filter out more consistent data in order to focus on changes that in this case might suggest injury risks to players. McGrath acknowledged that while this approach works well for professional athletes, it might not offer the insights that typical people want for the price they are willing to pay.


With more and more people applying analytics to their daily lives, a good example being measuring fitness performance, McLaren’s technology and similar projects will only continue to grow.

Image c ourtesy of Gil Abrantes, Flickr