German sportswear brand Puma has built a shoe-sized, programmable robot that can help runners reach new goals and improve their art.
BeatBot, which was created in partnership with advertising agency J. Walter Thompson New York and a team of engineers from MIT, works by providing athletes with a visual target they have to beat.
Using nine infrared sensors, it scans lines on the track, and an Arduino chip monitors wheel rotations to calculate speed and distance. There are also GoPro cameras based on the front and back of the robot, along with rear LED lights so athletes can see it in their peripheral vision.
The super speedy robot
The bot processes data in real-time, with over 100 adjustments per second made to ensure it remains on course, navigates turns and finishes at a pre-set pace. While the robot is highly intelligent, runners still need to enter the time and distance of the race they want.
It’s placed on the starting line next to the runner and follows them when they set off. They get access to a companion app as well. Here, they can set their own time and goals, which can be things like surpassing a personal best or beating a rival.
According to the makers of the robot, it can even compete with Usain Bolt’s 2009 running speed world record of 44.6 KPH (27.7 MPH), which is great for users who want to aspire to more than just a short run around the block.
Although there’d almost certainly be major commercial appeal for the beatBot, it’s only available for PUMA-sponsored athletes. This means runners need to stick to using a stopwatch or finding a friend to go running with them.
Other sport tech
Shankar Narayanan, country head UK & Ireland at TCS, believes that IoT through the form of wearable technology is making it easier for sports people to get personalised data about their performance.
He said: “Smartphone apps and wearable technology now make it simple and affordable for anyone to get quality personalised data about their physical performance. T
“CS research shows this technology is having a genuinely positive impact, helping people to become fitter and more active, both in their training and in encouraging people to adopt a healthier daily lifestyle.
“62 percent of respondents say using fitness technology is a motivator, three quarters (74 percent) say they exercise more since using fitness technology, and a huge proportion, 93 percent, said that using fitness technology has led to a positive change in their behaviour.”
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