Growing up, many of us mentally separated athletic activity from tech-savvy computer science projects. As one grows, however, they may realize that the two can interact and benefit from each other in ways that push sports and technology to new, progressive areas in their history.
All industries change and either progress with time or fade out. The tech industry and the sports world are two that aren’t going away and, through rapid change, have come together in really interesting ways in the past 20 or so years. We’re finding new ways for technology to make better athletes, and athletes are challenging technology to find new ways to help them to develop as humans. This is getting pretty interesting and working in ways we never thought of. Here are aspects of athletics that technology has infiltrated and is creatively changing for the better.
By now you’ve probably heard of wearables. If you’re not aware of what a wearable is, it’s short for “wearable device” and is simply an electronic device worn on the human body, whether attached or stored inside of clothing. In an athletics context, this can be anything from a stopwatch to a wearable performance tracker.
Right now, smart devices are taking over the training world. In an infographic put out recently by Adelphi University, smartwatches and fitness trackers were listed as devices being used to monitor perspiration, heart rate, skin temperatures, and calorie counts – similar to a treadmill your gym may have, but on the go. Sport to sport, the infographic also lists cyclist glasses that show real-time data on heart rate and speed, as well as devices that help swimmers and gymnasts track their own performance in real time.
However, by far the weirdest training devices are of the virtual reality variety, or VR for short. We’ve talked about VR and AR (augmented reality) before, but to get to the basics, the VR tools used in the sports gaming industry (Madden, FIFA, etc.) has reached the potential to teach athletes. The NFL is using 360-degree cameras so players can relive drills and plays rather than only thinking about them. They’ve also been brought into the more specific act of quarterback training. VR has allowed players to prepare off-field in ways more insightful than simply watching a replay video, and hopefully this continues to be fruitful.
You’ve heard of smart devices of course, but have you ever heard of smart fabric? Companies like Marucci are creating fabrics that are worn on the head to evaluate how hard hits were and what the potential damage was. Football and hockey players benefit from this greatly, as those specific sports take extremely forceful hits and concussions are nowhere near uncommon.
Smart fabric can also be worn around the rest of the body too. There’s now smart fabric that monitors heart rates and lets you know if they get dangerously high. In addition, some of this new technology is also measuring fatigue, which will hopefully stop athletes from exhausting themselves unhealthily.
Do you remember the way EA Sports video games would start growing up? The catchphrase “It’s in the game” is becoming reality due to virtual reality and 3D technology. Media as a whole is becoming more and more interactive. With movies having alternate endings and 3D theater experiences, it was only a matter of time before we started viewing real-time events in the moment.
Due to 3D VR technology, we may soon be able to watch games from our living rooms as if we were there. 360-degree views are becoming popular in professional Poker. With that technology, imagine what we could do with a sport like golfing for instance.
Augmented reality is already using some of this technology to do things like putting first-down lines on the screen for those at home to see. We don’t know how it might affect more intense contact and movement sports in the future, but if AR could be used in conjunction with VR for some of these games that would be incredible!
How do you want technology to work in sports? What would your ideal use of technology in sports be within the next 20 years? We want to hear about it. Let us know in the comments.