Wearable Tech World Feature Article
September 29, 2015

Safe and Strong: How Fitness Tech Benefits Pro and Amateur Athletes

Tech innovations have rapidly evolved and have recently found their footing in the world of athletics. Now, with the increasing popularity of wearables, such as the Fitbit and Garmin’s VivoFit, even the casual athlete can track their daily activity. But there are, of course, other functions enabled by the world of fitness technology. Here are a few ways that the current array of wearable sensors are improving our game and keeping athletes safe from the courts to the streets.

Boosting Form & Function

Most of us know that if you want to be a top athlete, you also need excellent form. The great athlete with their own approach to the sport rarely goes as far as the athlete whose technique hits every mark. And it’s not just that great technique improves overall performance, but rather that following the rules of form can help to prevent injury. Those who deviate from accepted techniques are far more likely to hurt themselves in training or during a game.

The importance of form, then, is what makes PIQ such a great innovation. PIQ attaches to players’ wrists, collecting player stats, allowing post-game form analysis. Additionally, PIQ allows players to better focus on their game, knowing that the data will be there later. Without the traditional split in attention, tennis players find that their training is more effective. This wearable is sure to be rapidly adopted by players at all levels.

A Coach On Your Shoulder

Unlike sports such as tennis or running, swimming can be difficult to coach – after all, it’s hard to hear someone yelling to you when your head is under water. This is where the newest device from Xmetrics comes in handy. Designed to attach to a swimmer’s goggles, the Xmetrics system offers direct audio feedback during a swim. This includes number of laps, time splits for laps, total time, and even flip turn quality.

Like most sports tech, the Xmetrics system uploads workout information to an associated app, allowing swimmers to assess a training session once they’ve left the pool. The audio, component, however, does set the device apart from most of its competition. Even though audio data could be supplied more simply for many other sports (consider the hurdles to underwater headphone use), few other systems have considered this feature. While Fitbit may offer a celebratory vibration when you reach your activity goal, that’s far less than the full coaching experience Xmetrics allows.

Hitting the Target

It isn’t just mainstream sports that fitness tech has reached. Take, for example, the sensor technology developed in Finland that focuses on archery. The highly precise sensors employed for this sport allow archers to measure factors like bow movement, stability, and the timing of each phase, from lifting the bow to the final release.

Using these sensors benefits athletes both during training and when they are choosing new equipment. While an experienced archer may be able to select a new bow based on muscle memory and knowledge of the sport, the new sensor systems allow athletes to further refine their choices, leaving nothing to chance. The major value of the sensors is their ability to track the smallest deviations, most so small that they’re basically invisible. Even the best coach can miss those moves.

Street Smart Safety

While all athletic activity comes with some degree of danger, it’s sometimes the more practical activities that pose the greatest risk of injury. This is certainly the case with bicycling. While bicycling is obviously a well-recognized and challenging sport, and injuries certainly occur when bicycling competitively, it’s reasonable to say that street biking for practical purposes, like commuting, is often more dangerous.

In response to such dangers, bicycle manufacturer Cotlo has developed a prototype that keeps the busy biker aware of their surroundings. The bike supports a small monitor between the front handles, displaying speed, distance, and other metrics, great for athletes and practical bikers alike. But more important for your standard street biking commuter or urban currier is the built-in radar set beneath the bike. This radar is used to detect oncoming cars behind the biker, but the true genius of the system is how it alerts the rider. When a car is detected, the radar causes the seat stem to vibrate, alerting the rider to the oncoming vehicle outside their line of vision. This is technology with the potential to save lives!

An Expanding Market

No matter what athletic activity you enjoy, the fitness tech market is rapidly expanding and there’s likely a product for you. With their combined focus on performance and safety, fitness tech is improving the lives of athletes in all arenas by providing vital data that would otherwise go unmeasured. Never before have athletes known more about both their sport and their applied technique. We may see remarkable improvements and broken records in the near future as athletes apply this data to their training.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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