3 Game-Changing IoT Applications in Sports
The developments and successes of IoT are already widely touted throughout industrial and commercial environments as well as smart cities. However, the presence of IoT applications in sports has also led to the creation of innovative technologies that could revolutionize the entire industry. From shaping game strategy and analyzing potential injuries to creating personalized fan experiences, the sports industry is drastically changing for coaches, players and fans alike.
Here are 3 game changing IoT applications in sports.
Sports technology giants are installing IoT-powered sensors in footwear, apparel and equipment to help ensure both athlete health and safety as well as enhanced training and player development.
Smart apparel is ushering in the next frontier of performance training. With connected coaching, sensor-laden clothes use real-time data to correct biomechanics, boost fitness, optimize training and recovery and even correct player form, technique and timing.
For example, Athos, a Redwood City based startup, serves elite athletes and military with connected apparel sporting electromyography (EMG) sensors to capture muscle behavior. Data is delivered in real time via Bluetooth to a smart device to help athletes and coaches cue muscle activations, evaluate movement progression and monitor the accumulation of stress on muscles throughout training.
Equipped with gyroscope, accelerometer and pressure sensors, smart shoes can analyze running style, measure strain, impact and balance and make suggestions that support training goals. This in-depth data not only helps optimize performance, but also prevent injury.
For example, Seoul startup 3L Labs, has developed a fitness tracking device that aims to detect health problems early on. The smart shoes, called FootLogger, make use of the biometric data gathered from the athlete to send suggestions on how to improve gait, diagnose potential diseases, and improve athletic performance. It has eight sensors paired with one accelerometer to aid in recording the athlete’s exercise habits. The smart shoes can also help with patient rehabilitation, particularly for spinal or nervous system concerns, and can be used to spot early symptoms of arthritis and dementia as well.
The global smart sports equipment market size is expected to be valued at $12.0 billion by 2026. Whether it’s a basketball, baseball bat, golf club or helmet, sports equipment enabled with wireless IoT sensors are helping athletes and coaches to monitor, track, analyze, and improve performance as well as provide enhanced health and safety.
For example, Babolat's smart racket is equipped with a piezoelectric sensor affixed to the handle to measure changes in pressure, acceleration, strain, or force by converting them to an electrical charge. Armed with this hardware and Babolat's algorithms, the racket keeps track of how many forehands, backhands, serves, and overheads the player hits as well as the amount of racket head speed being generated. The motion of the racket is analyzed to tell whether the player is hitting slice, topspin, or flat strokes. The racket also uses vibration feedback to indicate where on the string bed the player has made contact with the ball.
Another critical IoT application in sports is facility and venue management. One of the biggest day-to-day responsibilities for sports facilities and venues involves keeping spaces clean, comfortable, safe, and attractive. There are numerous IoT technologies that can help streamline these tasks as well as reduce associated costs.
For example, people counting data combined with presence detection data can pinpoint areas that are frequently used and those that are not like washrooms, concession stand lineups, entrances and exits and of course seats to better manage disinfection and cleaning schedules. With the help of wireless IoT sensors, facility managers can also proactively monitor when consumable supplies like hand sanitizer, paper towels, toilet paper and hand soap are running low at entrances and in washrooms for effective inventory management and timely replenishment. Likewise, stadiums can use IoT-based smart bin technology to enhance waste management, sending real-time data to facility managers on the garbage levels of bins for timely removal.
Paramount in fan comfort as well as operational expenses and sustainability, energy management can now be easily optimized with the help of environmental sensors that monitor temperature, lighting and refrigeration. This critical environmental data can identify the key energy consumption drivers and provide a 360° view of energy consumption patterns, abnormal energy consumptions by faulty devices if any, and under-used or over-used infrastructure and wasted resources. Likewise, air quality sensors can be used to ensure proper ventilation in crowded stadiums.
With an $8 billion market size, sports organizations are now realizing that improving their fan experience with innovative technologies has become a necessity for their growth and existence while competing with digital entertainment systems that are keeping the younger generations at home.
State-of-the-art smart stadiums are being built to drastically improve fan experiences and increase game attendance. Wireless sensors provide fans with a wealth of information from parking availability, bathroom and concession lines, seat upgrades, special offers and more. Fans receive personalized experiences through digital displays or downloadable apps with directions to quicky find available parking spaces, shorter concession lines, their seats, the nearest/least-busy exit and the closest washroom.
In addition to smart navigation, stadiums are also increasing comfort and fan engagement with the use of in-seat smart devices and augmented reality. For example, smart tablets are available at seats to order food, merchandise, share insights about the game and even create automated photos and videos of fans during the key moments of the game. Even more impressively, AR technology like GlassUp’s Smart AR glasses help fans see the live and historical stats of any player you focus your glasses on during the game.
Today’s wireless IoT applications in sports have the potential to enhance the stadium experience by making it more personalized, convenient, and engaging as well as help improve critical aspects of business operations. In order to capitalize on all of the benefits, sports organizations should consider these guiding principles in order to maximize the power and benefits of IoT: harnessing the power of data, thinking in an agile manner, and looking at the entire fan experience from end-to-end.
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