British Athletics deploys digital ‘pace’-makers for Rio Olympics

British Athletics deploys digital ‘pace’-makers for Rio Olympics

Brace yourselves everyone (and we mean that quite literally), the Internet of Olympics is about to start — the Rio sports fest (or the Games of the XXXI Olympiad to afford it its official moniker) is ready to go and the use of sports technology has never been greater.

Yes there will be toned bodies and yes there will be opening and closing ceremonies. Yes there will be hangover conversations in the media surrounding the Russian doping scandal… and yes there will be the ‘Internet of Olympics Things’, as we hear about the degree to which technology was used by athletes while training in the run up to the games themselves.

So how is team GB getting digital?

Digital ‘pace’ makers

British Athletics (an in the official body) is working with a firm called Pace Insights, a firm that develops ‘customer instrumentation’ and data analytics services for the sports market.

Athletes are monitored using precision instruments placed on and around the body. The combination of software and hardware comes from a mix of proprietary and bespoke tools, often developed by different companies. The data they produce is in a mix of formats and is logged at different rates, making bringing all the information together a significant challenge.

Pace Insights builds customized software tools & equipment — the benefits of using specific bespoke datasets are being seen more often.

It has previously taken analysts several days or weeks to collate information. Whilst valuable, this is too slow for any insights to be usefully ‘actioned’ within a training session. In an industry where a millisecond is the difference between a gold or no medal, a week is simply too long to wait.

Working with Pace Insights, British Athletics has since developed a system that would enable all their IoT data streams to be pulled together within minutes.

The new tool has meant that for the first time, British Athletics can review time-synchronised data from multiple devices built by multiple manufacturers for analysis within seconds as part of a training session.

Pace Insights CEO Samir Abid explains, “For the team to get the most out of training data, we needed to come up with a solution that would give British Athletics the ability to rapidly and seamlessly combine data streams. Succeed and we’d enable them to significantly increase the value of their data at individual and team level.”

The solution was developed to give coaches all of the benefits of a cloud tool, but in one that could be used offline as well, particularly useful when out training in the field.

Fudge sweet on sports tech

Barry Fudge, head of sport science and endurance for British Athletics says he is happy with progress so far.

“Generally and historically it takes an excruciating amount of time to get anything technological done in sport and Samir and his team at Pace Insights have made huge progress in a very short period of time,” said Fudge.

As sports increasingly adopt new measurement tools and approaches, the challenge in utilising IoT technology in sport becomes not one of data scarcity but one of data incompatibility. With Pace Insights support, British Athletics can now utilise IoT monitoring devices, process all their data significantly faster and have it on hand in the field and within their competition environment.