When the IoT boosts athletes’ performances

IoT 

Elly Schietse - Qorvo

Jul 6, 2018

Athletes have their daily routine, from special training to healthy nutrition, in order to be at their best during competition. Many of them have added Internet of Things applications to their routine. The combination of today’s technology, monitoring of health, fitness and performances, can help to go one step further in results.  

Want to know more about a day in the life of an athlete, and how the IoT impact her habits? This article is for you, with a real-life example from a professional cyclist.

The IoT – enabling efficient monitoring 

One of the first things the athlete does in the morning is taping her Fitbit and measuring her pulse at rest rate. Professional cyclists usually have an extraordinary heart capacity, and a lower heart rate at rest typically implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. It can also imply signs of infections or circulatory problems. 

Our athlete starts off with a well-balanced breakfast of granola, fruit and yogurt for a total of 550 kcal. She enters the food and its weight in a food calculator app and shares it with the nutritionist, part of her athletic support team, who also has access to this app. He can then optimize the food intake for the required output, depending on the program of the day: training, racing or rest.

The IoT – preparing the training session 

Before our cyclist gets on her bike for her training ride, her support team has previously analyzed both her equipment and her fitness levels to maximize every possible variable: 

  • Fitness and endurance tests. Professional cyclists are under continuous medical supervision and do several endurance tests per year to measure their progress while training for the start of the season or for specific events, like a world championship. The results of these tests are shared with the cyclist, sports doctor, trainer and nutritionist, who all collaborate to shape the perfect sports body for our athlete and create optimized training schedules and nutrition plans.
  • Equipment. The training team uses a bicycle fitting lab and wind tunnel to test and optimize the position and geometry of the cyclist on her bicycle. The variables to adjust are countless: pedals, cleats, cycling shoes and crank arm length. The selection of saddle, its height and tilt, the type of cycling shorts for comfort. Handlebars, brake levers, and hoods. A bike is symmetrical, but the human body is not — and every millimeter of adjustment can impact a professional cyclist’s results.

All this real-time information shapes the cyclist’s individual training plan to focus on what’s most important: her riding.

The IoT – focusing on training equipment 

When it’s time to start the training session, our cyclist will put on her training clothes, shoes and helmet. But her equipment is optimized by technology and the IoT:

  • Her smart helmet has bone conduction audio technology, which turns audio into vibration that goes straight to the inner ear from the tabs of the helmet straps, through the cheekbones, bypassing the ear drum. The result is amazing: you hear music and voice navigation “inside your head” and the cyclist can still hear the ambient sounds of traffic to maintain situational awareness for safety.
  • Her GPS computer/navigator tracks her location and is linked to her heart monitor, to observe variation depending on location. 
  • Once on her training ride, she uses a power meter — a device fitted to the bike that measures the power output of the rider — to quantify her workout and give instant feedback. Cycling experts believe a bottom bracket power meter system is the most accurate type, and will help cyclists to accurately measure progress, without the impact of external factors like weather that can influence the result. 

But the cyclist isn’t alone on her ride — her support team is monitoring it in real time using the IoT. The trainer can follow the cyclist with the GPS tracker as training sessions are automatically shared as live streams. The trainer checks heart rates, speed, power. Nothing goes unnoticed. In the past, trainers only looked at average speed during training sessions. Today, they look at distance and speed, power output and explosivity, velocity, resistance or help from tail- or headwind, and many other variables (like weather) — which can all influence the result of a training session.

The IoT – enhancing all sports lovers 

Athletes today have access to many technologies, tools, instruments and applications to measure performance and progress and share it with their support and training team, like wireless communication (GPS tracking, Bluetooth in the helmet and heart monitor, ANT+ for the electronic gears and more) or dashboard applications. When these technologies help to optimize an athlete’s performance and equipment, in close collaboration with the supporting medical and care team, the IoT has a nice growth path in sports. 

For those who aren’t professional athletes but love sports, or interested in monitoring their health, connected IoT devices and applications can still bring the same benefits. Different apps and wearable devices like a Fitbit or Apple Watch can track our own fitness, monitor progress toward goals, share our achievements and stay motivated, as well as convey information to health care providers. At its heart, the IoT can bring more information and more data for sports and health — no matter your fitness level.

 
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