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Professional sports teams and athletes driving wearable technology


Wearable technology has quickly become a mainstream practice in professional sports, as many athletes and teams are using clothing and equipment with embedded sensors which track and record data on heart rates, speed, workload and distance, according to a report by The Financial Post.

In its May research report, IHS Technology projected that global revenue for sports, fitness and activity monitors will see a huge spike from US$1.9-billion in 2013 to reach US$2.8-billion by 2019.

IHS Technology attributes the demand to the increased use of wearables by professional athletes, as well as recreational fitness consumers and corporate wellness programs.

Many professional sports teams are already using or will soon be using equipment with embedded sensors, such as baseball bats that track players swing and performance, and smart ice skates that measure the physical impact that jumps have on skaters’ bodies.

Performance Sports Group will soon be offering sensor technology for both amateurs and professionals, which can be attached to baseball bats and work in combination with a smartphone app that allows players to track their swing and performance.

The company will offer sensors under its Performance Sports’ Easton Sports baseball division, which will be launched in phases over the course of 2015, said Performance Sports Group CEO Kevin Davis, who added that the technology will be incorporated into hockey, lacrosse, and other sports.

Both the German national soccer team and Major League Soccer club Toronto FC are using Adidas’ miCoach Elite Team System of wearable sensors during practice and training.

The sensors collect biometric data of each player’s heart rate and workload that coaches can view in real-time on a tablet.

Biometric sensors and GPS trackers developer Catapult Sports is currently working with 515 teams around the world, including the Toronto Raptors basketball team and Canada’s women’s and men’s soccer teams.

The data collected can be used to help coaches or players filter out biases when assessing the performance.

Last year, NBA teams San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and four undisclosed teams were testing OptimEye, a device which is worn inside jerseys between the shoulder blades during practice.

The device records the player’s every movement to measure distance, velocity, changes of direction, acceleration, deceleration, jumps, heart rate and more. The collected data is then transmitted to a computer to provide coaches, trainers, and players with real-time performance data for analysis.

The NBA said in February it is testing out the technology in its D-League, making it the first U.S. professional sports league to use performance analytic devices in a game.

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