The Olympics are the ultimate sporting extravaganza. Athletes spend their entire careers timing their peaks to coincide with Olympic years so that can win medals for personal and national glory. For a lot of athletes, the Olympics are the only time that they ever compete under the national flag, and so the motivation to do well is even higher.
With the margins of victory often less than fractions of seconds, athletes are always on the lookout for anything that might give them an extra edge. This year, Team USA seems to be betting on technology to give them that extra bit of boost and help them stay ahead of all the other chasing nations.
Competing athletes from a variety of spots have incorporated the use of smart sensors into their training regimen. Take the example of boxers who have been training with sensors on their body. These sensors measure the number of punches they have thrown, the time they have trained, the maximum speed that has been achieved and more.
Long distance runners are wearing sensors that analyze their sweat to see what kind of salt are they sweating out most, relaying that information in real time to the trainers and allowing for replenishment that is targeted for each runner.
One of the most intriguing use of technology has been by the US Women’s cycling team. The team worked with Felt, a cycling sporting goods manufacturer to develop an entirely new kind of bike that promises groundbreaking gains.
The members of the Women’s Cycling team have been testing the bike for a few months now, under some seriously tight security, to get a feel of the bike before Rio. According to people involved in the project, this bike is expected to shave close to 4 seconds of the World Record time set by the U.S. Women’s cycling team.
Both the men’s and women’s team will also be using special high-tech eyewear during their training sessions which have incorporated heads up displays, sensors to measure heart beat, cadence, speed, power and more. All of this information will be displayed to the athletes without them ever having to lift a finger off the bike.
Not all of the technology is wearable, though, some of it is ingestible as well! Athletes are being given tiny edible sensors that stay inside their body during their workouts and measure accurately the core temperature and other analytics that were just not available a few years back.
It remains to be seen how effective all of this information will be in improving the real-world performances of the athletes involved. There have been instances where a lot of data has been collected but no actual observable benefits have been extrapolated from it.
The sport has always looked to gain new insights from technology and it is interesting how a connected IoT set of devices talk to each other to understand what the data is saying. It is not unreasonable to imagine a future where athletes may well have a ‘pit crew’ of scientists that see the results of sporting exertion on their body and offer immediate feedback to help achieve optimum results.
The war for better technology is never ending in sports and it looks like the IoT is going to be the battlefield this Olympics in Rio.