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Wearable Technology, Sports and the Quantified Athlete

Thursday, February 02, 2017   • Posted by Erika Vázquez

Technology (and specifically wearable technology) has become a critical component of the sports industry. And in the past year, the two have continued to strengthen their bond.

At the Consumer Technology Association’s CES 2017 conference, Sport Techie counted 14 major sports technology announcements. Notable product launches included STRIVR, a platform for VR training that utilizes 3D football footage, and Under Armour’s Athlete Recovery Sleepwear, which leverages Tom Brady’s TB12 technology to produce healing far infrared energy.

Epidermal electronics (such as John Rogers’ wearable microfluidic device for the capture, storage and sensing of sweat) are poised to make a huge impact in this space. Objective data capture of fatigue levels, asymmetry on the body, recovery and hydration has huge potential for injury prevention and performance optimization. Biometric sensors that can provide these metrics for athletes will become integral tools moving forward.

Wearables are also proving to be of significant value to professional athletes, especially as biometric sensing capabilities and form factors improve. At the 2016 games, Olympians donned a range of wearables and sensors to help give them an edge in Rio.

Major sports leagues are welcoming wearables, too. In April, the MLB approved the wear of two devices during games, and in December the NBA announced plans for a committee to evaluate the use of wearables during games.

Though technology has been widely accepted by sports organizations, the methods for integrating wearables into practice and play, and evaluating which devices to incorporate is largely unchartered territory. Organizations like the newly launched Sports Innovation Lab, a Boston-based advisory firm providing sports technology consulting services, will help close the gap.

The Sports Innovation Lab is a membership-based service for technology brands, sports brands, agencies, sports organizations and investors. The firm offers database access, strategy sessions, annual trend reports, new product announcements and events for members. The Sports Innovation Lab has recruited a worldwide network of tech scouts, advisors, innovators and universities to constantly keep an updated database of over 1,200 sports technology company and product profiles.

“I was frustrated, seeing some of the biggest, and most sophisticated, brands and groups in the world making decisions based on limited information. That blew my mind,” said Isaiah Kacyvenski, Co-Founder and Managing Director at the Sports Innovation Lab. “No one had a comprehensive overview of the space of sports technology innovation. I saw a way to drive efficiency and solve the patterns flowing from the lack of information.”

In 2017, one of the things that Kacyvenski predicts is that sports organizations will differentiate hardware with the goal of capturing more specified data sets, emphasize machine learning and predictive analytics and, overall, focus on the quantified athlete.

“It’s all about having the information at your fingertips and optimizing your strategy. We’re gathering objective information around products that exist,” says Kacyvenski, who knows both the sports and technology industries well. He played 8 seasons in the NFL and was involved in business development and product conceptualization at MC10 for over 5 years.