While world athletic records were shattered and world-class athletes competed for medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the world-wide athletic completion also marked a watershed in athletes using wearable technology to monitor their training and performance.
Olympic athletes use of wearable technology mirrors the overall consumer growth of wearable athletic monitoring tech.
CCS Insight, a research firm that studies the wearable technology market, has projected that 411 million smart wearable devices, valued at $34 billion, will be sold in 2020. And, despite early, negative technology reviews of the iWatch, Apple shipped 12 million smartwatches in 2015, according to Canalys. That number is predicted to grow as Apple hones the iWatch software and hardware in future releases.
Some of the wearable technology athletes have used in preparing for the Olympics include:
Solos: Originally launched as a Kickstarter project, Solos are smart glasses for cyclists that livestreams data to a smartphone app – tracking a cyclist’s speed and performance. Solos uses technologies developed by the Kopin Corporation for heads up displays for US Military Joint Strike Fighter pilots.
Hykso: A former UK boxing competitor that missed his chance to compete at the London Olympics, developed Hykso, a sensor worn inside a boxing glove that monitors the number of punches, and the type and speed of punches that a fighter throws in training. The data generated from the Hykso can inform training decisions for boxers and their coaches.
VERT: The VERT Wearable Jump Monitor, a sensor clipped to an athlete’s clothing or embedded in clothing, measure vertical jump data. The VERT, liked other sensors, streams the data to a custom smartphone app. The U.S. Volleyball team used VERT in their Olympics training.
Olympic athletes aren’t the only world-class athletes utilizing wearable technology for training and performance tracking. The National Football League currently has a partnership with Zebra Technologies (“The Official On-Field Player Tracking Provider”) that monitors players in-game stats and performance via an RFID-sensor technology deployed in all NFL stadiums.
“The data collected by Zebra’s Sports Solution can be leveraged by coaches, players and team personnel to gain deeper insights into athlete performance and coaching strategy,” a Zebra spokesperson said. “From an athlete performance standpoint, the Zebra Sports Solution provides comprehensive metrics, such as speed and acceleration, that allow for performance optimization and return-to-play monitoring. From a coaching standpoint, the Zebra Sports Solution enables coaches to dive deeper into tactical areas, such as player match ups and formation alignments, to assist in creating an optimal strategy for Game Day.”