IoT Applications in Sports

In the world of sports, IoT is helping teams achieve better results and allowing fans to have more enjoyable interactive experiences. IoT can greatly affect individual athletes through connected footwear, apparel and equipment.

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Image of Steph Curry and Russell Wilson in front of a graphic of sun rays
Illustration: © IoT For All

The Internet of Things (IoT) allows organizations and individuals alike to harness the power of data to gain better understandings and insights into whatever problem, task or situation they face. In sports, the same power can be achieved with IoT, but where exactly does IoT fit in the world of sports?

  • Athletes: IoT devices can help improve athletic performance, monitor progression and measure player efficiencies.
  • Teams: Collecting data from wearables and connected devices can help teams understand how to improve in-game strategy, understand opponents’ weaknesses and make better draft selections and trade decision.
  • Fans: Sensors can drastically improve the fan experience and help make a trip to the stadium more about the game than waiting in lines for beer and popcorn.

IoT for Individual Athletes

Let’s first dig into some ways that IoT applies for individual athletes.

IoT devices can help individual athletes measure performance, efficiency and progression. By collecting this data over a long period of time, players can better understand their own strengths and weaknesses and use data-driven feedback to get to the next level.

Wearable devices are the primary medium for athletes to collect data on their performance and progression. Firstly, connected apparel unlocks performance metrics that have not been historically accessible for athletes. The following technologies are at the crux of IoT and the athletic experience:

Connected Footwear

These shoes can track athlete speed and footwork. Pressure sensors in shoes can show where an individual tends to balance their weight and accelerometers unlock the ability to track max speed, stopping power and in-game stamina. Measuring these data points over time provides an insight-dashboard for any athlete to up their game

Connected Apparel

Shirts, other clothing items and wearables with embedded sensors allow athletes to track their overall fitness. Heart rate, breathing rate and muscle usage can now be tracked throughout practices, scrimmages and in the game. Over time, athletes can iterate on energy expenditure throughout games and know when to take a rest or when to fuel up so they have enough fuel to close out a close game.

Connected Equipment

This is where it gets really interesting. Footballs and basketballs with embedded sensors can track all sorts of information about shot and pass accuracy and strength which allows athletes to get actionable insights regarding shot/pass mechanics and arm strength that can help players become better and track progress throughout the season.

IoT and Fitness

Consumer-facing items like the Fitbit, Apple Watch, and Peloton bike can have an equally great impact in the athletic world. Similar to connected apparel, these consumer devices can help athletes track vitals and performance metrics. Different types of connected fitness equipment may become an integral part of an athletic training regimen, as they can push individuals to work harder during a training session and monitor their progress and abilities over time. A concrete example here would be a competitive cyclist measuring their explosiveness on a connected bike and working to improve this metric in advance of race day.

As you can see, a few breakthrough technologies in IoT products unlock great value for athletes in terms of monitoring performance over time. In the ensuing article, we’ll dig deeper into how IoT improves the fan experience and allows sports teams to make smarter decisions.