Increasing technological connectivity could be a game-changer in the arena of sports and athletics.
As WiFi and LTE technology become more ubiquitous, the internet is being integrated in our lives in ever more sophisticated ways. A prominent example of its effect on our lives can be seen in the massive network of connected appliances, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT), that has begun to digitize our every waking moment. Even activities as simple as going for a run or making a cup of coffee produce data that, in turn, can be analyzed by computers and applications.
There’s no question that the IoT is pushing numerous industries towards incredible heights of innovation, but in the realm of sports, the impact could be particularly significant. The glory of athletics is dependent on our ability to accurately measure performance, and the IoT promises to augment that ability beyond what had previously been imagined possible.
The Internet of Training
To make better use of practice time, some athletes are beginning to integrate smart equipment and wearable tech into their training routines. The Wilson X Connected Football is outfitted with sensors that enable athletes to track the velocity, distance, and spin rate of throws with a ball; Athos Wearable Fitness Technology, a line of smart clothing, can track changes in someones heart rate, breathing patterns, and muscle activity.
All of this information can be relayed back to a smartphone or computer, where it can be reviewed by the athlete in order to evaluate the effectiveness of that day’s training and plan future training sessions accordingly.
The Internet of Performance
Athletes can use data from devices to improve and guide their training, but that same information has the potential to impact performance in real-time. For instance, the technology behind running apps like MapMyRun can be directly built into shoes themselves. Just like a phone, the shoes can track time, distance, and split times, and can integrate with the app on your phone or smartwatch to inform performance in real-time. That data can be used to coach runners to pace themselves, to improve form, or even to perform intervals.
The Internet of Safety
With contact sports comes the near inevitability of injury, but the IoT makes it possible to reduce the chances of physical trauma. One example is the Shockbox helmet sensor, which attaches to an athlete’s protective helmet and uses accelerometers to measure the effect of head impact in sports like football and hockey. Accelerometer information is then sent to the smartphone of a coach or parent, who can make a more informed decision about whether or not to take their player off the field after impact in a game.
The Internet of Fans
Technology has already impacted the way that coaches and athletes are working with one another, as well as the ways in which fans engage with the sports themselves. Access to a diverse array of applications means fans can now see how well their favorite team or team members performed, just as a coach can. In effect, sports analysis is instantaneous, allowing coaches to give real-time feedback to their athletes, and fans can give running commentary on information as it’s relayed to them.
Though there’s no way to predict what lies ahead for the future of technology in sports, it’s almost certain that the Internet of Things will continue to play an integral role in our lives — in the realm of sports and beyond.
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