Use Cases for Wearable Technology in Sports – Examples
According to Forbes, the market for wearable sports technology is increasing significantly, with a likely total volume of $27 billion in 2022. Beyond these forecasts, it is plain to see that the emerging wearable technology options are growing rapidly more sophisticated and specialized. Like internet of things development more generally, where while there were once many generic solutions, the emerging solutions are highly customized to fit individual and unique sporting needs.
Sports Wearables – An Overview
Wearables for sports typically generate data and perform real-time analysis of this data. Most sports wearables include a hardware and software component in the form of a human-wearable physical item packed with sensors, which connects with software in the form of a mobile app. Sensor-generated data goes directly to the cloud for analysis, with any generated insights or findings visible in the app. It isn’t hard to see how sports institutions and individual athletes could benefit from such an implementation. Like other types of wearable technology, it is directly useful for monitoring and improving individual performance. Moving out to the institutional scale, however, institutions can use the data and insights from wearables to inform decision-making processes and customize strategies for an edge against the competition.
Now let’s examine several specific scenarios in which the new IoT development of wearable technology can demonstrate its value in sports.
Use Case: Monitoring Heart Rate Data
To find an optimal training plan, we need data that is most easily obtainable by tracking athletes. When equipped with reliable training data, athletes and their coaches can continuously monitor improvement, manage the bodily stress of training-related workloads, and anticipate possible risks. The direct result of such a data-informed training regimen is a significant reduction in the risk of injury, coupled with major improvements in training efficiency. Given this context, you can see why it is such a priority for sports technology manufacturers to design equipment to track such vital statistics reliably.
One method for wearable sports technologies to track a human heart rate is by recording the heart’s electrical signals. This information then goes to the cloud for processing and analysis by specialized algorithms to yield clear pulse readings in a companion app.
The Finnish company, Firstbeat, has developed an athlete monitoring system that it calls Firstbeat Sports. The Firstbeat Sports solution is targeted at individual athletes as well as sports clubs, and it helps athletes and coaches optimize training routines and post-training recovery. Firstbeat sports also provides comprehensive analytics on a range of physiological parameters.
The Firstbeat Sports solution includes a software dashboard and an internet of a things hardware component in the form of a sensor that attaches to the athlete’s body. Once attached, the sensor is able to monitor and transmit data on training load, heart rate variability (HRV), and recovery. The Firstbeat Sports solution then transmits this data to the cloud for algorithmic performance analytics processing before displaying its findings in the app dashboard. HRV is a well-established marker of exercise performance that enables athletes and coaches to make informed decisions based on reliable data to improve performance and reduce risk.
In Austria, the SV Fügen football (soccer) club started using Firstbeat Sports to improve endurance and performance. The club now includes this technology in every training session.
Use Case: Sleep Analysis
Sleep trackers have a wide range of sports benefits, including improved training efficiency, better performance in competition, and injury prevention. However, you won’t get these benefits from the most basic of sleep trackers. To deliver such benefits, the device must include the kind of top-quality sensors found in another high-end internet of things developments: precise high-precision, sophisticated sensors to track ambient noise, heart rate, breathing, oxygen saturation, and snoring. This data can help athletes and their coaches adjust routines to improve sleep quality and athletic performance.
Beddit is a novel form of sleep tracker developed by a Finnish company. The Beddit internet of things device is a sensor strip installed beneath a bedsheet to accurately track sleep duration, the duration of sleep, breathing rate, heart rate, room temperature, room humidity, and snoring. The sensor strip uploads all of this data to the cloud for analysis and recommendations in the companion mobile app. Such data and insights can help sports institutions track how well athletes sleep and recommend adjustments to train routines or sleep hygiene. By recording and acting on this data, the Beddit solution helps clubs and athletes significantly reduce accidents and improve individual health and performance.
Case: Weight Training
Gyms and weight-training facilities want to improve workout quality and enhance access to increase visitor numbers and revenues. To this end, many vendors already offer basic internet of things development such as accelerometers and velocity-based sensors integrated within many wearables. Using these sensors, clubs or gyms can learn much more information about athletes during strength or power-based workouts for a much clearer understanding of an individual athlete’s physical condition and energy levels.
The Beast Sensor is an accelerometer-based wearable created by Beast Technologies for monitoring athletes during weight training. The hardware module is designed to attach to an athlete (back or wrist) or directly to gym equipment, depending on preference and exercise type. The Beast Sensor then tracks velocity, power, strength, and speed. Using this data, the Beast Sensor provides a progress record, tells users how much they are lifting, and offers users velocity-based training (VBT) feedback.
Coaches can use all of the harvested data harvested from such IoT development solutions to make informed decisions about how much weight their athletes should lift in accordance with team and individual performance goals. This improves the quality of coaching and training, reduces the risk of injury, and adds rigor to training program evaluation.
Case: Performance Tracking for Swimming
As in other fields, sports technology developers are continuously increasing the sophistication of their wearables to provide a bigger advantage to athletes during training. In the case of swimming, it is now increasingly common for a swim-focused sports wearable to include sensors traditionally associated with bulkier and more expensive internet of things devices, like an internal Global Position System (GPS), accelerometers, gyroscopes, and velocity sensors to reliably capture the swimmer’s position, speed, and direction. Many such wearables can use these sensors to monitor the total workload within a given workout based on the athlete’s previously inputted bodily parameters.
As with other sports wearables and IoT application development services, these devices then typically transmit the harvested data to the cloud for further processing by sophisticated algorithms or AI-informed analysis tools. The Smart Swim Goggles are the product of the sports technology company FORM. These Smart Swim Goggles track progress during a swimming workout, but that is just the beginning. The goggles use an augmented reality (AR) display in the right lens as a form of head-up display (HUD) to display metrics and offer instructions to facilitate an optimally effective workout. The metrics captured and displayed by this clever internet of things device metrics include session duration, pace, speed, distance, and total calorie burn.
The FORM Smart Swim Goggles are now in use at a US swim club during training and competition. The original goal was wide in focus – to assess performance and improve individual results. After seeing the significant improvement in individual swimmers’ and overall team performance, the goggles became a central plank of the training and improvement strategy. Those highly sophisticated pieces of internet of things development devices now help to facilitate individually customized swimmer training and development plans.
Sports wearables gather real-time data that helps sports clubs and teams compete and train effectively. Cloud-based algorithmic processing of that data is the “secret sauce” that yields insights the data alone could not provide, enabling teams and individual athletes to train better and perform better, with a lower risk of injury. Given the innovative sports-minded wearable technology we’ve already seen, it is clear that internet of things devices will get even smaller and more capable. They will also continue integrating increasingly sophisticated processing power to help athletes push past training plateaus and reach new performance levels.