Research shows that wearable devices in the sports market, which was $79.94 billion in 2021, would rocket up to $212.67 billion by 2029. It is expected to undergo a CAGR of 13.01% from 2022 to 2029. With this being said, wearable technology in the sports industry is at an all-time high right now because of the results that athletes worldwide are seeing in their day-to-day play. Wearable technology is encouraging athletes to push their boundaries and evaluate their overall performance on a daily basis. These types of technology can monitor your heart rate, strides, ground contact, stroke rate, and force analysis. Incorporating these devices into workouts provide real-time monitoring for improved results and more accurate data. By using wearable technology, athletes worldwide can improve their skills on and off the field.
One of the most common ways wearable technology is used is through soccer either during practices or games. Small devices can fit basically anywhere on your body and will be able to track your performance. One of the places that shows the best results for soccer players is your calves because of the amount of movement they are doing. The first sensor that is very popular among soccer players is the Oliver calf sensor. They are based in Barcelona, Spain, and have been a company since 2017. Chua explains “Based on the data/metrics collected, the Oliver platform is able to provide the monitoring of loads, external and internal, measuring/calculating the risk of injury and calls to action that prevent injuries up to 45% per season” (Chua). This calf motion sensor basically is a GPS tracker but is designed to track and monitor specific skills while playing soccer. A user platform has also been developed for players and coaches to manage their player’s performances and see which players have been putting forth more effort than others. These sensors collect the data of players during each session, then after the session, the data is downloaded which means the data is not live. This calf sensor is only able to capture about 50Hz of data, but the Next11 calf sensor can capture more. The Next11 calf sensor is one of the newest sensors and was founded in 2018 in Denmark. The team behind this technology developed a sensor worn with a calf sleeve to help find the best results for all types of athletes. This sensor is meant for the entire soccer team and it will not only track what each player is doing but also tracks the player’s positions during a game or practice. Chua states “Through the metrics of every player, the system provides a profile of each individual player rating them according to their skills, technique, power, endurance, performance, and development progress. It is also able to create a team profile (in the coach’s app) by analyzing all the data and painting a bigger picture” (Chua). In addition, this system includes an instrumented ball that tracks its position on the field and who has the soccer ball at certain times during possession. This allows teams to have an accurate picture of possession and other related stats like how long each player has the ball. The only downside to this product is the tracking to improve players’ performance is relying on the Bluetooth 5.0 mesh network which is quite new and there has not been much reported yet about its accuracy. Either way, this device will help soccer teams worldwide improve individual and team play. By placing sensors on your calves, this technology helps all athletes including soccer players know what they need to work on to be the best version of themselves.
Another big aspect of evaluating performance on the soccer pitch is through feet sensors that can be easily slipped into any cleat or indoor shoe. This sensor may look like it can’t do much, but when put to the ultimate test it shows you that even the best soccer players in the world have something they need to improve on. Xampion feet sensors had its startup in Finland and were founded in 2016 by a group called Progda which already had experience in developing sensor hardware. Xampiom’s feet sensor comes in the form of 2 insoles that tracks soccer motion with both feet. Chua exclaims “Based on the data collected, the app calculates for each session, overall scores in five key Skill Points (Stamina, Movement, Control, Tempo, and Activity). It also summarises for each session the count, quality, and balance of the ball touchpoints” (Chua). This type of technology was created to help capture ball touches on each foot like the number of strikes, passes, ball control, and others. Also, movement data can be collected like acceleration, sprint speed, personal tempo, and the number of sprints to help soccer players examine how their performance is improving or if it is staying the same. This is just one of the examples of how feet sensors help soccer players. Another sensor that athletes could use is the Playmaker feet sensor which also helps soccer players get the best out of each of their workouts. Founded in Israel back in 2016/17 this pair of smart sensors are designed to be strapped to the outside of a pair of soccer boots to get the best results. Chua discusses “Playmaker breaks down the metrics into 5 different categories. 1) Involvement – number of touches (contact with the ball), ball releases (kicks/shots/passes), and possessions (had control of the ball). 2) Playing Tempo – one-touches, short possessions (1.5secs or less), long possessions (>1.5secs). 3) Technical Balance – touch by leg (%), released by leg (%), receive by leg (%), and max kicking velocity. 4) Speed – max speed, sprints, accelerations/decelerations. 5) Volume – distance covered, sprint distance, work rate” (Chua). The app that goes along with this software provides easy visualization from the details of each play to an overview of each full session. It also allows players to benchmark their own performance with other elite players to see where they compare. Players are able to set goals, track their progress over time, and receive coaches feedback which is a key aspect of any sport at any age. Soccer is a very competitive sport and with these types of technology competitors all over the world can improve their game even more, which allows them to be able to compete with the best of the best. If this technology was not within reach, the players would never be able to realize the exact thing they need to work on.
Basketball is a highly competitive sport and your every move could determine the outcome of the game. One wrong foot placement or one wrong hand motion could determine winning or losing one of the most important games of your career. With wearable accessories, these little wrong movements can be identified and fixed in a blink of an eye. This technology helps coaches with observations on athletic performances and court strategy. The ShotTracker is just one of these technologies that will help coaches and player improve their status. Allen writes “The accompanying smartphone app captures and displays your data, including your time on the court, the number of points you scored, and your performance in each part of the court. The court zone map tells you where you need to brush up and where your best shot remains” (Allen). No more keeping track of how many shots are made during practice because this wrist sensor and net sensor record your attempts, and makes/misses while shooting. With all this being recorded with a flick of your wrist, coaches can focus more on how to improve their shots rather than how many times the basketball went through the hoop. Another type of technology that will also help coaches and player is Clothing+ which are uniform makers who have started integrating textiles and technology to monitor players’ health conditions during and after physical activity. Allens describes “Clothing+creates custom fitness wear that monitors bodily occurrences, from heart rate and temperature to brainwaves and emotions. Tracking elements of players’ bodies during game time opens coaches and staff to a wealth of information on how external and internal stimuli affect their teams” (Allen). With this being said, this clothing attire helps prevent injuries, improves breathability, protects you from the elements, and fuels your fitness mentality. These clothes also make it ten times easier to know which move to make to benefit the team. These uniforms will let athletes not only know what to do physically but also how to fuel their bodies afterward. Finally, the last technology that helps basketball players to this day is the Blast Basketball Replay. This replay device allows players to film their moves, metrics will then show up on the screen of your phone actively changing as you execute the move. Allen explains “Blast’s basketball precision motion sensor acts as a silent observer, attaching easily to a player’s waistband and tracking metrics on the height of your jump, the degree to which you spin during a maneuver, and the length of your hang time” (Allen). The wearers of this technology can get all of the information on the app and charge the sensors by simply placing it on a charging plate like you would with an Apple watch. As long as this sensor is being worn and charged during practices and games it will give you all of the information needed to help improve the skills/shooting ability of any aspiring basketball star.
There have been plenty of amazing players who have developed their playing styles without some of the best technology, but with the right tools used in the right ways there can be a boost of player development and the data it produces can attract eyes nationwide. This technology helps many different athletes, but baseball players use this technology to help showcase their skills on the mound and in the field. Through bat sensors and pitching technology, baseball players get input daily on how to improve their swing or the accuracy of their pitch. Blast Motion and Diamond Kinetics are two companies that provide bat sensors to help players with their swings. Lemire explains “Blast Motion’s bat sensors analyze swings not just with raw data, like bat speed and attack angle, but with analytics including its own plane, connection, and rotation metrics” (Lemire). This data can be paired with any type of smartphone video, through this the blast vision product can pair all flight data with the swing and receive auto-edited clips of each cut. This can then allow players to review their swings and see what they need to improve on so they can hit that one home run they are striving for. Diamond Kinetics also helps with players’ swings but in a different way. Lemire discusses “Diamond Kinetics’ SwingTracker—whether it’s attached to the end of the knob or embedded inside bats made by many leading manufacturers—tracks a hitter’s swing metrics such as hand speed and bat speed and computes bat speed, power, control, and quickness” (Lemire). The app that goes along with this also helps build a batter’s swing fingerprint, which is a 3D visualization of hot and cold zones and can automatically generate video clips of each swing. Through this technology, efficiency can increase tremulously. A single data dump for all players at the end of practice saves time for the coaches and the players can see a more accurate visualization of how they performed at the practice. Hitting plays a major role in any baseball game, but when there is poor hitting it may be because of the superior pitching. Different pitching sensors might help athletes throw a no-hitter as they have always dreamed of. Technology like F5 Sports and Rapsodo will help pitchers tremendously if they are looking to improve their speed and accuracy. F5 Sports’ pitchLogic ball is a baseball of regulation size and weight with a sensor embedded in its core. Lemire exclaims “The sensor relays velocity, movement, and spin metrics—including total spin rate, spin efficiency, and spin direction—as well as arm slot positioning and breaks force, which is derived from the forces of spin and velocity and translates to greater movement” (Lemire). Rapsodo also is similar to F5 but also very different with different camera and radar tracking that is involved. This piece of technology pairs a camera and radar tracking into a portable unit that measures pitch velocity and movement, release point, spin rate, spin efficiency, and more. Lemire describes “A custom RapScore for each player helps simplify the scouting process. The company also makes a slow-motion video camera that can be synced and overlaid with data. It provides instant feedback and has become the go-to tool for pitch design and pitch tunneling work” (Lemire). This device provides excellent feedback and clear data on distance, clubhead speed, ball speed, and launch angle for each shot. Pitching can make or break any baseball game and without the right practice and feedback from technology then any game could end up a complete failure.
Athletes worldwide can improve their skills on and off the field by using wearable technology. Without this type of technology then athletes would never be able to figure out what they need to work on within seconds of doing that action. With this being said, technology has changed the athletic world in so many ways and is continuing to change this atmosphere. With more types of technology coming out every day soon the sports world we know today will be completely transformed for the better.
Chua, Julian, and View All Posts By Julian Chua. “Wearable Soccer (Football) Sensors That Track Shots, Passes and More.” Sports Technology Blog, 1 June 2022, sportstechnologyblog.com/2022/06/01/wearable-soccer-football-sensors-that-track-shots-passes-and-more.
Lemire, Joe. The Baseball Technology You Should Know About. 15 June 2021, www.sporttechie.com/baseball-technology-guide.
“Six Pieces of Wearable Sports Technology Every Basketball Player Should Know.” Teams of Tomorrow, 8 Aug. 2016, teamsoftomorrow.com/six-pieces-wearable-sports-technology-every-basketball-player-know.