One of many joys of watching the Olympics is seeing the velocity, energy and style of the opponents. It’s superb how the most effective athletes on the planet make it look straightforward, however for anybody with private expertise in a selected sport, there’s an appreciation for the arduous work, sacrifice and dedication that goes into producing medal-winning performances.
Given the excessive requirements of Olympic competitors, it’s not shocking that coaches and athletes search for any attainable benefit — from dietary regimens to gear improvements and novel coaching strategies — to maximise the probabilities of success.
One of many more moderen instruments within the Olympic arsenal is wearable know-how, which many people are acquainted. Units corresponding to Fitbit, Garmin, Polar and the Apple watch enable us to measure and observe numerous elements of our well being and efficiency.
Wearable tech was particularly helpful to maintain observe of athletes when coaching grounds have been shut down due to the pandemic. The English Premier League used it to maintain observe of their gamers throughout distant coaching after the nation went into lockdown.
In easy phrases, “wearable know-how” refers to something connected to the physique that measures some side of efficiency throughout bodily actions corresponding to operating, biking, strolling or swimming.
How sensors monitor motion
Most of the present units contain micro-electromechanical techniques, which incorporate sensors that quantify some side of bodily operate or motion — corresponding to coronary heart charge, velocity, power or acceleration.
One of many fundamental benefits of wearable techniques is that they’re comparatively cheap and sufficiently small to be connected to any a part of the human physique. As a biomechanics researcher, I usually analyze motion in a lab with costly 3D cameras. Whereas this supplies a excessive diploma of accuracy, it limits the categories and amount of actions that may be analyzed.
Wearable know-how — my present analysis and consulting focus — supplies thrilling new alternatives to measure efficiency from fully new perspective, from primary metrics corresponding to step or stroke rely to new and extremely superior metrics corresponding to harmonic ratios (frequency evaluation) and fractal (self-similar) sample recognition.
Consequently, wearable tech has the aptitude to offer an unlimited array of metrics to coaches and athletes in many various sports activities — from stride charge and stroke charge in operating, swimming and rowing, to floor contact time and power evaluation in velocity skating and leaping.
One of the apparent advantages of wearable tech is its means to offer data that wasn’t beforehand accessible. For instance, force-sensing resistors positioned in sneakers, ski boots or bike pedals can present a steady stream of information for whole coaching periods.
Equally, volleyball coaches who wish to observe the variety of jumps in a given time frame (at every apply or throughout per week) to observe coaching quantity for the prevention of knee accidents, beforehand needed to watch hours of video to acquire this data.
Presently, a easy wearable machine known as (VERT) can robotically extract this data utilizing an accelerometer. Certainly one of my latest analysis tasks used the identical sensor to find out stroke rely and physique roll in elite swimmers, as each of those components contribute to the mechanisms of shoulder damage.
(AP Picture/Lee Jin-man)
Should be correct and dependable
To profit efficiency, the info collected from wearable tech must be each legitimate (correct) and dependable (measured constantly).
This isn’t as straightforward because it sounds as a result of the algorithms used to extract significant efficiency metrics are sometimes finicky. For the knowledge to be helpful to coaches for evaluating efficiency and making training-related choices (corresponding to method modifications), it must be reliable.
The info additionally must be positioned into the suitable context to have that means. For instance, a sensor can inform a coach a swimmer’s common stroke charge for a complete race (or coaching session), nevertheless it’s not as significant as understanding the way it assorted or when it modified in the course of the race.
Understanding the info within the applicable context can present insights into race ways, pacing methods and conditioning, however with out this data the info is commonly meaningless.
Amount of information may be unmanageable
A further consideration for the implementation of wearable tech by Olympic athletes is the quantity of information that’s generated.
Wearable tech produces massive portions of information that must be analyzed and contextualized with different forms of data, corresponding to units, repetitions, intensities and interval instances. The sheer amount of information can simply grow to be unmanageable when a number of athletes and coaching periods are concerned.
Whereas difficult, the potential of wearable tech to offer new alternatives for Olympic athletes to optimize efficiency is limitless, particularly as sport science researchers proceed to create new strategies (corresponding to AI) to discover what the know-how is able to.
It’s not unrealistic to think about a not-too-distant future by which small unobtrusive sensors positioned in a shoe or swim goggle is not going to solely be capable of improve athletic efficiency, however be capable of inform a leisure runner the quantity of damage threat related to a selected stride sample or a doctor the quantity of threat related to an aged particular person’s gait.
Hopefully, on this approach, wearable know-how will present many necessary advantages to society sooner or later.