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Wearable Technology in Sports

Wearable Technology in Sports

Wearable technology has been in experimentation and production since 2009. In recent years, there have been several innovative trends and experimental prototypes with wearable devices for mature and professional athletes of various sporting disciplines.

The three central pillars of wearable technology for athletes are that the device should be able to gain insight into sports performance, track health and improve future performance. 

Technological innovations often require years of iteration before significant improvement or value is gained from the product. However, many innovative wearables already provide enormous value to athletes beyond the common steps taken in a day metric that many fitness watches offer.

What is Wearable Technology in Sports

man running using a wearable
Image Credit: blog.fourthfrontier

Wearable technology in the sports market is a broad term covering various devices and applications. These devices can track fitness data, monitor heart rate and sleep patterns, and provide real-time feedback to help optimize athlete performance.

What are the benefits?

Biometric data is essential for understanding how your body is performing. When combined with wearable tech for sports, athletes can preserve their biometric data like heart rate, respiration, and other key metrics to gauge exertion levels better and ensure they are not over-exerting.

In addition, wearable technology devices can generally help athletes monitor health, improve fitness, and help sports teams receive real-time feedback on their team sports performance.

What types of products are available?

Various wearable sports technology products are available, from fitness trackers to smartwatches. Some of the most popular brands include Garmin, Fitbit, and Apple.

garmin watch - Wearable Technology in Sports
Image Credit: nextpit

Is it covered by insurance?

Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of wearable sports technology. However, some employers may offer subsidies or discounts for these devices.

How do I get started with wearable sports technology?

The cost of wearable sports technology varies depending on the specific device or application. Fitness trackers, for example, can range in price from $50 to $250.

Anyone interested in wearable sports technology should consult their physician or a certified trainer before starting. Understanding the risks and potential privacy concerns associated with these devices is important.

What are the risks?

Some risks associated with wearable sports technology include skin irritation, electrical shocks, and data security issues. Privacy concerns also exist, as these devices can collect various sensitive personal information.

To reduce the risks associated with wearable sports technology, it is important to choose a reputable brand and follow all instructions carefully. It is also important to be aware of the potential privacy concerns and take steps to protect your personal information.

What are the privacy concerns?

Some privacy concerns associated with wearable sports technology include unauthorized access to Sensitive Personal Information (SPI), physical activity tracking, and location data. Choosing a device with strong privacy protections is important to reduce the risk of these concerns.

data protect
Image Credit: projectsbeyondborders

Wearable technology for athletes

Wearable technology for athletes is designed for athletes’ wellness monitoring and can be used in a few different ways. The first and most popular is to track fitness data. This allows users to see their progress over time and set and reach new goals.

Additionally, many devices now offer real-time feedback. This can be useful for athletes who want to improve their technique or form.

Furthermore, tracking progress and setting goals with these devices can help users with sports injury prevention.

There are several different types of wearable athletic technology on the market. The most popular brands include Garmin, Fitbit, and Apple

Wearable devices for Sports teams

NBA players

For years, NBA players have used wearable sports technology to gain a competitive edge. The data collected by these devices can be used to improve on-court performance and prevent injuries. In addition, NBA teams have begun to use wearables to track team-wide trends and strategies.

nba
Image Credit: seeklogo

For example, the Golden State Warriors have used data from player tracking devices to understand better how their players move around the court. The Houston Rockets have used player tracking data to adjust their defensive game plan.

Professional soccer

Wearable sports technology is not just limited to the NBA. Professional soccer teams have also begun to use player-tracking devices to improve performance.

In fact, the English Premier League has been using player tracking data for years to help teams strategize and improve player fitness. Soccer teams use wearable technology to track player movements during training and games.

By understanding how players move during different exercises, coaches can better tailor training programs to improve player performance. In addition, by tracking player movements during games, teams can better understand which players are more likely to be involved in injuries.

Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball teams have also started to use player-tracking devices to improve performance. The data collected by these devices can be used to analyze player movements, understand how pitchers throw different types of pitches, and determine the best time to make a defensive switch.

In addition, teams can use player tracking data to improve their batting lineups and understand which players are more likely to get on base. As wearable sports technology spreads, more Major League Baseball teams will likely adopt these cutting-edge tools.

Amateur athletes

The benefits of wearable sports technology are not just limited to professional teams. Amateur athletes and weekend warriors can also use these devices to improve their performance.

By understanding how they move during different activities, amateur athletes can better tailor their training programs to meet their needs. In addition, by tracking their progress over time, amateur athletes can see how they are improving and set new goals.

What Are The Best Wearable Technology in Sports For Athletes? 

The wearable technology for athletes can be used in various sports, including endurance sports, ball sports, workouts, and other traditional strength-building exercises. 

Fitness Watches

Witness watches are some of the most popular and used wearable fitness technology. According to Men’s Health, in 2022, the best watch wearables are the apple watch ultra, Suunto Baro 9, and Garmin Forerunner 955. 

Garmin has recently released its new flagship models, the Fenix 7 and Forerunner models. A new innovative feature that not all athletes can utilize to its full potential is the ability to solar charge the watch outdoors. 

Many sports require long hours of activity monitoring; therefore, battery life has become essential to fitness watch technological innovations. Three of the most recent features in fitness watches are ECG monitoring, blood oxygen saturation monitoring, and sleep tracking. 

These are all features designed to help you monitor your general health. GPS ability has improved in fitness watches. Specifically, its accuracy with each successive model released. 

Fitness Rings

Oura has designed a smart ring, a viable option for many athletes who would not like to wear a fitness tracker watch. Oura Ring can track metrics, including heart rate variability, body temperature, and commonly demanded SpO2 sensors. The ring can also track activities, such as daily movements like housework and heavy workouts. 

oura ring
Image Credit: mobihealthnews

The ring’s key selling point and innovative aspects include the features that many flagship brands provide; however, can be supplied in a discreet yet functional ring. The software caters to individual athletes with metrics such as training readiness, sleep, and activity tracking. 

Fitness Wrist Bands

Whoop has been a significant selling point for many elite athletes in the cardio-intensive sport. The current and latest model, Whoop 4.0, caters to a distraction-free tracker specializing in sleep tracking and recovery metrics. Like the Oura Ring, Whoop provides a more discreet tracker, focusing on the body of the equipment as the innovative selling point. 

Fitness Wrist Bands
Image Credit: whoop

Another innovative selling point is wearing whoop in underwear an arm, or knee sleeves. The Whoop 4.0 provides in-depth features on strain from your training regime.

Eyewear 

Engo Eyewear
Image Credit: engoeyewear

Athletes often claim that a drawback to watch faces with real-time analytics is the requirement to glance down or sideways to view the data. Sports Heads Up sunglasses mount clips onto your existing sports sunglasses and will project the provided real-time metrics through color LED visuals. 

This feature provides the athletes the comfort of checking their real-time metrics on their sunglasses. The Sportiiils Heads Up sunglasses mount can also offer audio feedback metrics for heart rate, speed, pace, cadence, and power. This innovative feature has a big selling point on personal safety and convenience for the athlete. 

This prototype and idea have thus motivated other companies to attempt to produce a product with similar features. Garmin Varia Vision is a similar product made by the sports tech giant. The product is required to be used in conjunction with an existing Garmin monitor, such as their cycling computer Garmin Edge. 

The idea behind the product is that it serves as a projector of the original data and will then be projected onto your existing sports sunglasses. Popular technology reviewer and YouTuber DC Rainmaker mentions the Garmin Varia Vision can potentially become a great product if it can improve its ecosystem integration with more Garmin products. 

Another high-demand eyewear wearable technology that has emerged is swimming goggles. The XMetrics Pro Swim Tracker offers a design where the metric device will fit behind your head on the strap of your currently used goggles. 

This design aims to reduce the swimming drag that other currently used wearables, such as a fitness watch, can cause and lessen the need to interact with the device. This advantage is due to the device’s ability to provide customizable real-time audio feedback while swimming. 

The XMetrics can also measure many metrics such as pace, the number of strokes per lap, stroke rates, SWOLF (stroke efficiency), and possible breath count tracking. All given metrics are essential metrics swimming athletes will use to record and analyze their training data. 

Expert product reviewer, Wareable, mentions that the XMetrics comes at a reasonably steep expense at 216 dollars for the standard model and 318 dollars for the flagship pro model. He recommends that the various features packed in the device can be essential for professional athletes but might not be as crucial for more casual athletes. 

Smart Socks 

Experts introduced the initial idea of smart socks to the medical field in February 2020. Since then, further development and integration into sports have been possible. Sensoria states that their smart socks are designed with three sensors stitched on the underside of the sock. One sensor near the heel and two on the ball of the foot. 

Smart socks
Image Credit: sensoriafitness

The socks can track metrics of each foot individually and require an additional connection to a Bluetooth-operated bracelet connected to your smartphone. 

The smart socks will pick up metrics such as foot landing, cadence, pace, calories burned, speed, total steps, ascent, and distance. Senoria also provides real-time data collection and a virtual coach that requires Bluetooth for athletes who want to go the extra mile. 

Heart Rate Sweat Bands 

Typically, the heart rate taken in athletes is through a wrist-based sensor or a heart rate strap across the chest. Moov HR Sweat Band has designed an innovative band with two sensors fitting as a regular sweatband on an individual’s head. It presents a thin black headband that can accurately track heart rate during various workouts. 

The system can provide real-time coaching metrics with running/walking HIIT workouts, swimming, and cycling. The innovative selling point of this product is the scientific reasoning behind heart rate tracking.

Wearing the tracker near the temples of the athlete’s head makes tracking heart rate simple and accurate due to thin skin and increased blood flow. The device is connected through the Moov app and can be used while performing HIIT workouts with visual aids from the application on a smartphone. 

Wearable Pods 

MPower was created to help athletes train more efficiently and gain better outcomes in strength training. The essential selling point of MPower is that it can measure metrics for muscles working, especially getting information from large individual muscles.

wearable pods
Image Credit: marathonhandbook

The innovation of MPower is that it is one of the first devices to measure fast muscle fiber activation, muscle fatigue, and muscle strength. This metric information can by individual athletes and coaches to assess training progress. 

MPower consists of pods, straps, and adhesive stamps. The pods can connect to a smartphone application, and then you start to monitor your muscle performance. The pods are attached via the adhesive strap to large muscles, and a pod is secured onto the muscle. The 23-gram measures its information through the EMG electrical signal produced by muscles during a workout. 

Wearable Glucose Monitoring 

An essential component (if not the most critical) of endurance sports, such as triathlon, is fueling the body in long, energy-demanding, strenuous activities. Supersapians has developed a product that can provide real-time glucose monitoring and focuses on energy management systems and peak performance optimization. 

This youtube video shows the importance of emerging technology to aid athletes and how innovative technology like the product designed by Supersapians is revolutionizing sports aid wearables. The video further portrays the importance of integrating science-based knowledge into these wearables. The data will also help with recovery guidance after strenuous workouts.  

Inertial Sensors 

Initial sensors in sports are built, including an accelerometer to measure force and acceleration, a gyroscope, and a magnetometer to measure body orientation. The wearable device can collect data in three axes and capture detailed movement. This data is essential for athletes in sports such as soccer or basketball. 

One of the most popular uses of inertial sensors is that they can quantify an athlete’s readiness and fatigue. IMeasureU has produced a product that can further measure these metrics and detect injury or fatigue changes. 

Inertial sensors are commonly fitted on ankles for running sports, on the scapula for more jagged movements, and on the waist for jumping sports. Due to the recent research on the sensors, the product can now measure moments such as acceleration, deceleration, high-velocity cutting, and jumping. 

Benefits Of Wearable Technology In Sport

Wearable technology is created to give athletes the ability to have access to information that they would usually not have access to. It further provides the ability to gain a vast number of metrics for the athlete and, often, more importantly, coaches. 

Metrics vary, for example, stroke rates and pace in swimming, ground contact time, vertical oscillation, cadence, pace in running and cadence, wattage, speed, and cadence in cycling. Similarly, real-time glucose monitoring to optimize athletes’ nutrition is a newly emerged feature for many endurance athletes. 

Wearable Sports Technology Market

Many wearable technology device giants such as Garmin, Polar, Apple, Fitbit, and Whoop have been leading the industry with predominantly sports fitness watches. 

We can break down wearable technology in the athletic market into smaller subdivisions. Companies often patent their product with the ability of inertial sensors, global positioning systems (GPS), heart rate monitors, local positioning systems (LPS), and sleep trackers. 

Round up

The future of wearable technology for sports looks bright. These devices are becoming more popular in mature and professional sport, and the industry is growing rapidly, especially because sports wearables have improved athletic performance.

We expect to see even more sophisticated devices hitting the market as technology advances. These devices will likely become more affordable and accessible to a wider range of people.

We can also expect to see the impact of wearable technology on sports grow. In the future, we may see athletes using these devices to gain a competitive edge. Additionally, wearable technology may be used to improve safety and prevent injuries.

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