In sports, every second counts. And there simply are no redoes. If you don’t get it right the first time, tough bananas. Athletes want the ability to gain an advantage every single time they work out, but what if lifting a few more pounds or trying to run a little bit longer just doesn’t cut it? Enter wearable technology.
Wearable technology has rapidly expanded over the last few years, creating a smartwatch market worth over $10 billion. Numerous products offer exercise-minded consumers the opportunity to pinpoint their exact moments of peak fat-burning time, as well as to track every single step or movement they make. Take the Wearable Technology Show (WTS) for example.
In its fourth year, the show will draw 5,000 attendees. At the show, consumers can witness technological advances within the fields of: fitness, smart home, fashion, augmented reality, medical and health developments, and more, from over 100 exhibitors.
The Future is on the Field
Technology wearables started out tracking footsteps, and have turned into multi-purpose devices. These advanced devices have already begun taking the playing field. The teams in the National Football League are constantly looking to gain an edge; but most smart exercise devices only offer: steps taken, calories burned, and distance.
A linebacker lifting 225 pounds and wearing a smartwatch is likely going to be disappointed when he takes a glance at his progress, and very little movement was registered—because only certain bodily movements are understood.
But any avid exerciser (linebacker or jazzercizer) knows that aerobic benefits are obtained through a multitude of activities. Footballers of any kind need to be powerhouses. They utilize weightlifting to build up strength and their ability to generate power at specific times during the game.
If players cannot direct a collective surge of power at critical moments of the game, their strength has probably not been properly developed, and may not really exist in any useful sense at all.
Ah, Push it, Push it
In their so 1990’s pop song, the American musical group Salt-n-Pepa, reminds us to “Push it.” This critical phrase continues to be relevant today in endurance training. Because when you think your body has done enough, you should probably push it a bit further. The PUSH Band is the latest exercise tracking innovation. This wearable gets shifted to the forearm and uses gyroscopes and accelerometers to measure and assess the body’s movement.
The PUSH device takes the former rather cumbersome sports assessment methods and simplifies the process. Previously, sports biomechanics required physical activities be analyzed using instrumentation techniques and tools hard-wired into equipment—picture a cyclist in a controlled gym/clinical setting with wires going everywhere, hooked up to machines, with snorkeling gear to breathe through.
Now picture this same cyclist being tested for endurance in rugged terrain with a smart device on his or her arm, GPS tracking signals sending a live feed to the same biomechanical researchers.
And the same research principles remain: to analyze muscle and tendon function and how these relate to motor performance. This live motion analysis and kinetic study is being replaced with standalone devices that can wirelessly send data to be analyzed and that can assess optimal performance levels of the muscles and bones themselves, to prevent muscle overloading and injuries.
The industry has moved to measuring the speed at which reps are performed and the actual energy being produced through each rep. Calculating this has given athletes the ability to fine-tune exercise sessions down to mere minutes and lifts required.
We Need a Device that Measures Power Not Steps
Existing exercise tracking devices treat the athlete, as mobile as he or she is, as a relatively static figure on a line. No major movement is understood by the device to mean less of a workout. An aggressive weightlifting regimen is simply interpreted by the device as much less effort than was actually expended. The PUSH device is designed to measure the body part being utilized the most. In the case of weightlifting, it is obviously the arm.
Technology is ever-changing, and trainers always have new-fangled ideas for new exercises and skill training designs. PUSH desires to get the most out of the current performance tests, which may very well form the basis of new and more efficient exercises. The most important thing being that once the information is gathered, it can be turned around and used to improve the next exercise.
Is that a Compression Exercise Tracker, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?
The next wave of wearables could be in your pants, literally. PUSH is developing their technology into exercise clothing that would be able to measure energy produced in various parts of the body during activity. Via sensors, the device would compare limb movement and provide detailed information to improve biomechanics. PUSH is onto something because one in four consumers have already expressed interest in active wear with built-in sensors.
I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Analytics, But Yet You Do
The smartwatch market continues to grow. Numerous companies are developing more analytically-minded devices, hoping to scrap every single bit of information they can from a workout. The deeper engineers delve into the intricacies of exercise, the more benefit athletes can gain.
Whether you are a professional or a weekend warrior, getting the most out of your workout is one step closer. Now, if they could only develop a device that will exert the effort for you, but yet you receive the benefit. That would really push the boundaries of wearable technology. You would just have to wear it!
Nemanja is an enthusiastic researcher and avid writer with interests ranging from martial arts, weight loss, fitness and cooking, to interpersonal communication, motivation, technology and productivity. When he’s not busy reading or training, he scribbles a few articles at MyCity-Web and tries to get around to writing a short story.