Thanks to IoT sports wearables and equipment, IoT in sports delivers crucial IoT data analytics to transform athlete performance and fans' match day experience.
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What are the applications of IoT in sports?
Our world has been flooded by wave after wave of technological advancements, particularly in the last two decades. Within these waves, the Internet of Things (IoT) and many other technologies have changed how our world functions daily.
Sports and athleticism have been no exception to this digital transformation. The role of internet in sports has been significant for a long time. IoT technology is changing sports preparation, game strategy, on-field performances and match day experiences.
Whether it is football or any other sport, it is all about results, and everyone is looking for something that may give them an edge over their competitors. Technology has made sports a lot more sophisticated. Sports IoT applications have become one of the common uses in the field of athletic performance.
Teams now have specialists looking at key IoT data analytics, scrutinising every aspect of their game to gain advantages and maximise their player's performance levels. In turn, athletes have long since realised that they must be at their best or risk being put aside and replaced by the next big thing. Simply put, the pressure at top-level athleticism is as great as ever.
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Can sports performance benefit from IoT?
IoT is a network of physical devices or 'things' that can communicate and share data integrated with advanced biomechanics and provide athletes with real time, actionable insights. Crucial data from IoT applications helps to determine future courses of action and investigate areas for development, increasing the chances of winning.
Therefore, it is no surprise that IoT sports solutions and software development are making huge strides in sports performance. Much research is being carried out to determine further how IoT is helpful in sports and fitness. Team managers and their coaching staff are increasingly looking into using IoT to improve sports performance.
The surge in recorded data information heavily determines athletes' diet, physique, and performance. Sensors for heart rate, breathing, muscle electrical activity, movement, and sleep trackers are all standard fitness devices used at top-level sports activity.
Similarly, bringing IoT to sports analytics has increasingly guided decision-making in sports. IoT devices, GPS trackers and similar devices track on-field performances. Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) help identify the next big thing.
Does IoT prevent injuries?
Information is key. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of athletes helps coaches design a training workload that addresses issues and mitigates injury risks and long-term layoffs.
Critical decisions based on information provided by smart technologies help reduce the amount of recovery time athletes need after long seasons or injury layoffs. Data insights generated by IoT devices help identify measures to be taken. A centralised analytics system can help prescribe nutritional plans based on exercise data and calorie intake.
Tennis, for example, is a worldwide sport that demands significant body movements to run, position your body, swing, and hit the tennis ball. This high demand for strain also means injuries are common. In recent years Babolat developed a smart tennis racket that collects information from every shot on the court.
A device on the racket handle measures changes in pressure, acceleration, strain, or force. It also measures how many forehands, backhands, serves, and overheads the player hits, as well as racket head speed. This data is then transmitted to the Babolat Play App via Bluetooth to be subsequently analysed.
Each season can result in a massive database for every single athlete. With time, databases of information on an athlete's historical experiences are recorded and subsequently used during the analytical process. All the data collected from various sources is processed and serves as useful information.
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Do IoT sports wearables help performance?
What is smart clothing? Modern fabric technology is the intelligent modification of clothes for specific purposes, whether to change according to climatic conditions or collect data based on movement and activity.
It is an IoT-enabled garment specifically embedded into clothing to transmit data into a monitoring program. Embedded devices such as smart insoles are examples of IoT sports wearables. Smart shoes analyse an athlete's running style, measuring strain, impact and balance.
Wearable technology has given physical fitness a different dimension. Athletes are using wearable technology to track every aspect of their performance. As a result, there is now a great demand for wearable devices, especially wearables that can monitor health, fitness, and activity levels.
These wearables provide data on vital parameters such as blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. IoT sensors, however, are not limited to wearable materials. These can also be embedded in IoT sports equipment, such as footballs and basketballs, enabling real-time data monitoring throughout events.
Adidas recently announced that the Official Match Ball of the FIFA World Cup™ 2022 will feature new technology which will allow for the most time-precise motion sensor ever in a World Cup, tracking every touch of the game at a rate of 500 times per second as well as enhancing the much controversial VAR system.
Photo source: news.adidas.com
IoT projects in major sports events.
The Internet of Things is increasingly becoming part and parcel of major sports tournaments. IoT and the World Cup Qatar 2022 will go hand in hand to provide fans with technological innovations to increase their accessibility in the tournament.
An app development will allow fans to download a mobile app which helps them plan their movements around stadia and tourist sites according to the best routes possible. Fans can download an app on their smartphone, which will facilitate travel using real-time information on traffic, taxis, and the public transport system, and see on-site entrances and exits.
Likewise, the athlete's village for the Paris Olympics in 2024 will showcase the technologies defining tomorrow's smart cities. For the occasion, Atos' Urban Data Platform (UDP) will log and store data generated from data flows from sensors, embedded systems, satellite images and other platforms dedicated to the site's energy and environmental performance.
Photo source: designboom.com
The system will have weather sensors, air quality and noise pollution monitoring devices, and devices to identify heat islands and traffic light failures. The analysed and aggregated data will be presented as monitoring dashboards. In turn, this will enable the operational management of the athletes' village and the implementation of corrective actions deemed necessary.
IoT in match day fan experience.
IoT technologies are, however, about more than just getting the best out of performers. Advances in IoT are also revolutionising fan engagement with sports, making it easier for them to follow and engage. Clubs are increasingly looking into how IoT can provide better sports viewing experience.
Manchester City Football Club have recently launched The Connected Scarf, where a sensor attached to a fan's scarf – located strategically to sit on the users neck – captures bio-signals such as body movement monitoring, heart rate and blood flow. This data is analysed and used to create more customised future experiences.
The stadiums of the future will soon give fans a chance to engage with sports in an unprecedented way. Levi's Stadium, home to the American football team San Francisco 49ers, is now equipped with sensors that monitor ventilation and heating inside the arena and tracking systems that monitor water and electricity consumption.
Like in Industrial IoT, preventive maintenance can help minimise equipment failure within stadia. IoT sensors assist crowd control at merchandise and food stands, whilst parking sensors help drivers locate empty parking spots outside the stadium.
When logged and analysed, all this information can help clubs create customised packages for their fans, including game day experiences, fan zones, stadium tours and overall services.
Is there a place for IoT in sports? - a recap
Certainly so! IoT technology is transforming training methods to improve players' performance goals, improve fans' match day experiences and optimise venue operations.
IoT is revolutionising how coaches prepare for training, manage players, and address key issues in their game. With advanced analytics, coaches can process vast amounts of data on player performances.
Sports physicians, physical therapists, and team doctors now have a wealth of data by which they obtain a holistic view of the athlete's health status whilst taking steps to reduce injury occurrences and recovery times.
IoT is used in sports venues and club merchandising to improve fans' engagement and overall experience. Billions are invested in smart stadiums to get fans off their couches and into the arena.