Wearable Technologies for Sports

02.11.2021 Wearable technologies are changing the way how we experience and practice sports. In elite sports, where the line between winning and losing is very thin, technology can make the all-important difference. The second workshop from the BFH Centre Health Technologies showed that wearable devices are so much more than the fitness trackers or GPS navigators that we know. They analyse our sweat, track our sleep, combine this data with environment related measurements and allow coaches to make decisions based on real-time evidence.

A keynote from Mounir Zok, CEO n3xtsports.com and three flashlight speeches from Karin Fischer (Swiss Federal Institute of Sport), Salil Apte (EPFL) and Andri Feldmann (University of Berne) opened the event. Zok nicely illustrated how technology made its way into sports over basketball and baseball and explained how wearable technologies contributed to the success e.g. of Michael Phelps during his comeback in the Olympic Games in Rio. The success in this case was based on the analysis of data not only taken from the athlete Phelps, but also from his private life. By monitoring his sleep and body outside training sessions, decisions about the  optimal daily training effort that best fit his physical state could be achieved.

Following the presentations, the speakers and guests participated in a workshop looking for future developments of wearables in training as well as in rehabilitation. What would the participants like to have available in the future? What does already exist? And where are the gaps?

The discussions showed that sport sciences with the support from wearable technologies is shifting from the laboratory towards the field. Ideally the collected data allows coaches to make decisions based on real-time evidence. However, large amounts of data are useless without proper analysis and interpretation. Current limits in this respect must be overcome in order to make most out of the data. In this way, athletes and coaches can be supported individually and in real time, in order to optimise the performance in the interplay of athlete predisposition, movement characteristics and equipment.

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