November has crept up pretty quickly and towards the end of November was the global sales event that tech bargain hunters (or any bargain hunters for that matter) were waiting for – Black Friday. Though it is traditionally a US thing, it has now increasingly spread throughout the world including here in Australia. Well the technology that we are highlighting in this post aren’t going to be on a Black Friday sale anytime soon. Most of them are still in the process of being trialed or validated or going through crowdfunding or in the prototype or development stage. Nevertheless, these are exciting developments and are worth mentioning. So without further ado, here’s our top 5 for this November:
Gilbert & Sportable Debut First Smart Rugby Ball
The concept of a Smart Ball has done its rounds in quite a few sports including basketball, soccer, football (gridiron), softball and recently cricket (as mentioned in our Top 5 back in August). The latest to add to the “Smart club” is the Smart Rugby ball.
Gilbert, a long time rugby ball manufacturer teamed up with Sportable to develop a rugby ball embedded with sensors (IMUs and RFID). This allows real-time tracking of the ball’s speed, spin rate and position of the ball relative to the players on the field (who are also wearing tracking devices) . The Smart Rugby Ball was recently trialed at the inaugural RugbyX game – a brand new concept game that’s indoor, five-a-side, short and fast paced. It was quite the perfect combo: new concept + new sports tech. Besides providing lots of real-time metrics to enhance fan engagement, the technology also allowed tracking and enforcing of a new 10m height restriction for kicks. It will be interesting to see if the Smart Rugby ball can find its way into other rugby games. Read more about the Smart Rugby Ball here: link; also check out this video that shows position tracking of players and ball:
N-Pro Selected As First Participant In World Rugby Trial
N-Pro is an Irish Sports Tech company that designs and manufactures head guards for rugby players. Designed with multiple layers of protection, the materials and their microcellular structure can manage and distribute the impact energy around (the head guard) thus reducing the energy transferred to the brain. One notable aspect of N-Pro is the number of scientific tests they have gone through to validate their product., that includes bench-testing, pre-clinical testing and player studies. It is no wonder that it has been approved by World Rugby to do a five-year trial to reduce the risk of head injuries and concussion. Other than Rugby, N-Pro’s head guard can also be used in Aussie rules and combat sports such as mixed martial arts. Read more about the announcement here: link or check out their launch video below:
AliveCor Teams Up With Huami to Develop Medical-Grade Wearables
AliveCor is known for their mobile ECG (electrocardiogram) devices that are FDA certified. They have previously developed the KardiaBand, an FDA-cleared ECG wristband designed for the Apple Watch. But sales for the KardiaBand was stopped recently due to various reasons and popular opinions say it is due to the Apple Watch 4 having ECG measurement capabilities. The next thing that happened is this announcement of partnering with Huami, a wearable technology company that produces a range of wearables better known as Amazfit. A quick glance and one will find that they look similar to the smart watches or fitness trackers from Garmin or Fitbit. A couple of their smart watch design (namely the Amazfit GTS and Bip Lite) could even be mistaken for an Apple Watch. Anyway, what this partnership means is that we can expect (more) ECG-enabled wearables with various heart features being delivered to the market by 2020. Then perhaps with this increased availability in ECG-enabled wearables, it might lead to ECG-screening in athletes becoming more common? Read more about the AliveCor and Huami partnership here: link.
Smart Cycling Outfit Prevents Back Pain in Riders
A group of researchers from Ghent University recognised that cycling for extended periods can place great strain on the lower back. So together with Kinetic-Analysis (a sports motion tracking company), utilising their combined expertise in wireless sensors, stretchable electronics, robotics, smart textiles and motion analysis, they developed a smart bikewear with integrated sensors to monitor a cyclist’s posture. Though not a lot was revealed about the number and type of sensors, the setup appears to be a combination of IMUs and stretch sensors positioned along the back of a cyclist. The data collected could be analysed by physiotherapists who would prescribe appropriate corrective measures. Or the smart bikewear could provide real-time feedback to correct the cyclist’s bad posture and prevent subsequent soreness. Currently the smart bikewear looks like it is still in the prototype stage but the team at Kinetic Analysis seems to have plans to bring it to market in 2020. They also see the potential to use this garment technology for other sports (such as rowing) that requires good back posture. Read more about their development story here: link or on this nano4sports Issuu publication. The video below (from 1:51) also talks briefly about the stretchable electronics and sensors:
Related post: The Challenges of Making Smart Sports Garments
Galerdo Is Launching An AI Based Audio Tracker For Swimmers
Running and cycling activities can typically be tracked using a GPS watch or a cycling computer. When runners or cyclists want to know their current speed or distance covered or even heart rate, they can easily glance down or lift up their wrists without skipping a beat. For swimmers, trying to have that feedback is not as straightforward. Watches can keep track of certain swim metrics in the pool or in open water. But it usually requires a brief pause to look at the watch. If a swimmer’s goggles are a bit fogged up, that brief pause becomes a bit longer.
In the last few years, a handful of companies have come up with solutions to provide better tracking and feedback for swimmers. They are typically either a heads-up display giving visual feedback or they use bone conduction and audio feedback. A latest entry to this category of swim trackers is Galerdo Beker Pro. The Beker Pro is meant to be positioned at the back of the head, and it can simply be placed under a swim cap or secured with the goggles. Sensors in the device tracks movements of the head and determines the type of swim stroke and various swim metrics like stroke count, distance or laps and timing. Then using bone conduction and smart algorithms, the voice assistant provides real-time audio feedback to the swimmer. The product is currently on kickstarter. Check them out here: link or have a look at their campaign video below:
And that is our top five sports tech news for November 2019. If you would like more information about any of the above, feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. If you enjoy our content, please do us a favour and share it around or subscribe to our blog/newsletter here: link. Thanks for reading!