Everything is getting smarter: Sports Equipment
Nowadays without a doubt you can find a smart piece of equipment to enhance your sports experience regardless of what sport you prefer: soccer, cycling or swimming.
Smart watches and wristbands are effective for monitoring key body indicators and some basic metrics like distance or speed. However, if your interest goes beyond this sort of data you will need a proper tool packed with technology. In the first part of our “Everything is getting smarter” series, we looked at how we can enhance sports related activities with the help of “on board” gadgets, or in other words – elements of clothing that you actually wear on your body. In this installment, let’s look at smart sports equipment and what it can do.
“94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball – a Coach in your Pocket!” And without a doubt – it is. 94Fifty’s ball is a truly amazing piece of equipment and here is why. First, the product consists of a ball packed with sensors of all kinds and an app which connects to a ball via bluetooth and has a refresh rate of 100 milliseconds. Therefore, your results are displayed simultaneously with your actions. Secondly, not only it shows the information but it also provides feedback in the form of suggestions. And lastly, the phone app is designed in such a way that it includes sets of adaptive workouts. For example, there are exercises for dribbling as well as accuracy/technique improvements for shots. So what exactly does this ball measure, you ask? Ball speed (in the air, while dribbling, or passing), ball spin, release speed, looping arc angles, hand power and the list goes on and on. Another thing to mention is that you don’t have to look at your smartphone after each and every shot to get the info – the app can tell all the data via headphones, which is quite convenient. Let’s not forget how important is to be social these days and the guys from InfoMotion Sports Technologies have not forgotten about it – all the results can be shared via app and even small competitions can be set up with your friends. Pretty cool!
As expected – it’s a ball. This time, its from Adidas. We would expect such a large company to be the first innovator and to introduce smart technologies in product lineup but in comparison to the ball “94Fifty” this one does not show as much data. However, it still pretty “smart” and its called “smart_ball”. It still consists of sensors that show ball speed, kick power and flight path. And that is about it, no info besides the kick indicators. Well, you can store and share your performance via an app, but only if it is iOS.
This time it’s not a ball – its a racquet. A smart racquet from a company with the fabulous name of Babolat, to be exact. As you would expect by now, it is a racquet full of sensors and a phone app connected by bluetooth. This product has quite a number of useful performance indicators. Not only does it show the power and the impact formed on the racquet but also the part of your forehand, backhand and overhead involved. Based on this data the app provides suggestions on your technique. Moreover, Babolat created something called “Pulse”, which is a 3-dimensional dynamic interface that shows a balanced score against three criteria: power, endurance and technique. So you receive more than just raw digits and percentages. By pressing a button on the racquet, you can split up a session into segments and analyze your game against different opponents or different techniques.
This product was created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the City of Copenhagen and is quite revolutionary. It’s not an entire bike – it’s only a smart wheel but oh, it is smart! From the outside, it looks like a regular wheel with a red cylinder in the middle where the sensors and motor are hidden. Yes, electric motor. While you cycle and brake this motor generates and stores electricity. Sensors inside the wheel analyze your cycling style. After the electricity is collected and cycling habits are analyzed you can then control the power assistance level from the wheel using your phone. When going uphill or just being tired your smart wheel automatically kicks in and assists your ride to make your life easier. And the best thing is that the smart wheel is suitable for any city bike!
Skiing and Snowboarding
A company called Wagner has developed skis that are used by the company itself to better understand customer needs. Test skis are given to potential customers for them to ride. After that, experts from Wagner using the data gathered from the sensors to create custom skis according to the style and technique of the rider. While this is not yet a product for the consumer market, let’s hope that someday it will become one. Wagner skis measure all the critical information needed about the ride and style – speed, turn radius, slippage, imbalances and others. Based on them a rider can properly select skis by their stiffness, shape and length. As with smart skis, a smart snowboard is not ready for you to purchase. But to be honest, it is the least smart product from the ones outlined in this post. At the same time, it differs from all of them as it has an actual display on the board itself. The display is black and white, identical to those seen on electronic readers such as Kindle, but it has its own beauty – low power consumption. The features are pretty limited, as the concept version is designed to show speed, direction, weather temperature and forecast, wind speed and altitude. But hey, not bad for a start!