IoT Improves Sports Data Tracking and Analytics

Professional athletes embrace wearable technology to give themselves a competitive edge through data insights.

Athletes, coaches and sports companies are incorporating the Internet of Things into training and competition equipment to enhance player performance.

Data analytics facilitated by connected devices has become a major tool for players across all sports, offering teams and individuals critical insights to improve their competitive edge. 

In an interview in January of this year, Mounir Zok, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s biomedical engineer, addressed the growing interest in IoT as a way to help Olympic athletes maximize their potential.

“I call it the 1 percent question,” Zok told Bloomberg News. “Olympic events typically come down to a 1 percent advantage. So what’s the one question that, if we can provide an answer, will give our athletes that 1 percent edge?”

While examples of successful technology integration are easy to spot in mainstream sports like baseball, football and basketball, the power of data is recognized as a powerful tool in a variety of sports.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: See how companies are using IoT to save money and drive quality.

USA Cycling Uses AI-Enabled IoT to Push the Limit

According to Zok, using technology to push past athletic plateaus is enticing to professional athletes, as the marriage of training and high-tech analysis can have incredible results.

“Just like a butterfly can never be a caterpillar again,” Zok said, “once an athlete starts using technology to peak when she wants to peak, limit injuries, and maximize performance, she can never go back to just intuitive training.”

In 2016, USA Cycling’s women’s team joined with IBM to integrate Watson IoT into their racing, which resulted in shaving two seconds off of their time, according to an IBM blog post. Women on the team used the artificial intelligence software in conjunction with connected glasses developed by Zok, which displayed performance data in real time.

Since then, more teams have introduced IoT devices into their training regimen, embracing new technology as part of the natural evolution of athletics. As one member of USA Cycling said:

“[S]port always evolves, sport always changes. That is why records are always being broken. It is not necessarily that you have better athletes. It is that people are learning different methods. And if you are not up on that technology, then you know you are going to fall behind.”

IoT-Enabled Devices Widens the Scope of Data Analytics

A partnership between Microsoft and tech company Spektacom has created IoT-enabled cricket gear, used to collect certain performance data during a game. 

The device, built using Microsoft’s Azure software, is embedded in a lightweight sticker that attaches to a player’s bat to measure things like swing speed, angle and impact. 

The information is sent to an IoT edge device running Azure Sphere, which serves as an intermediary to the cloud and analyzes the information using artificial intelligence. 

The stickers have wide potential for application in other sports, from measuring swings in baseball to impact speeds in football. 

Regardless, IoT’s foray into sports has only begun. As horizon technologies such as empowered edge computing and 5G come into view, the competitive nature of athletics is sure to spur creative new uses for IoT devices.

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mikkelwilliam/Getty Images
Dec 13 2018

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