It is the first month of the new year (some might call it a new decade) and we are already seeing lots of interesting developments in the sports technology space. January being the month when CES takes place, there were a few sports innovations that were announced there (as usual). We will be highlighting a few of them and a couple of ground-breaking works in this edition of Top5SportsTechNews. Most of them are not ready to fly off the consumer shelves yet, but they would have been through rounds of testing with athletes, coaches and teams. They are also mostly on pre-orders which means it won’t be long before everyone can get hold of one. So without further ado, let’s dive into it!
Asics Is Getting Into The Smart Shoe Game
Smart shoes (or rather shoes that collect movement data) typically aim to help the wearer gain some insight to the way they move and help improve efficiency or reduce injury. Many sports apparel manufacturers have (in the last 5-10 years) produced some form of sports shoe with ‘smarts’, including Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Altra, IoFit (Salted Fitness). Some have stopped making smart shoes or pivoted to making smart insoles and it seems only Under Armour is still producing them. But starting this year (2020), Asics is stepping into that space by announcing their version of smart shoe. Developed in partnership with No New Folk Inc, the company that created the Orphe Track smart shoe, the sensing looks like it consists of 2 IMUs (one for each shoe).
Based on the Orphe Track specs, the sensors can provide data on foot strike, pronation, ground contact time, stride, and cadence. Then looking at what was shown at CES 2020, Asics seems to be building on those metrics to provide additional actionable insights such as efficiency, landing load reduction, vertical movement, kicking force and left-right symmetry. There isn’t a name for the product yet but it will be something we can expect to be launched going into 2020. In the meantime, check out this demo video of Orphe Track:
Xsens Announces New Wearable Sensor Platform For Developers
Another innovative sports tech product that was announced at CES 2020 was the Xsens DOT. Xsens has been in the wearable motion tracking business for about 20 years. Their motion tracking suits/systems consists of multiple IMUs that have 9DOF (degrees of freedom), sensor fusion algorithms and magnetic immunity. Since conception, their systems have been used in sports biomechanics research, animation studios, ergonomics studies and more. But by launching DOT for developers and innovators, it seems like Xsens is attempting to allow even more flexibility to how their IMU platform can be used.
DOT consists of 5 IMUs of a much smaller footprint. This new hardware design was by mCube which is the parent company of Xsens. SDK and tech support are provided for anyone who wants to develop an application that relies on the DOT sensor data. At the moment, they only support Android development with support for iOS planned for release later in the year. Also, the platform is currently limited to connecting up to 5 sensors, although it might be possible that more could be connected in the future (like how the Notch does). In the meantime, you can read more about the product launch here: link, or check out their video below:
Nurvv Launches Their First Running Product: A Smart Insole
Nurvv is a technology company focused on biomechanics in sports. Their first product, that was revealed at CES2020 is the Nurvv Run – a smart insole for measuring running metrics. Those metrics include: cadence, step length, pronation, left right symmetry etc. Although it sounds similar to a smart running shoe as we mentioned earlier, the approach is quite different. NURVV Run is made up of 2 insoles instrumented with pressure sensors, capable of capturing 32 pressure points under the runner’s feet. By doing that, the smart insoles are able to measure the pressure distribution of every stride. It can pin point where, on each foot, it makes first contact with the ground, how each foot lands and takes off, all from a pressure perspective. Then combining their know-how of running and biomechanics, the team at Nurvv developed an App that collects all those data (each sensor source at 1000 times per second) from each run, analyses them and gives coaching advice to the wearer so that they can run longer and more efficiently with less chance of injuries. Find out more about how to get them here: link, or check out their intro video below:
MX3 Adds Sweat Test To Their Hydration Testing Suite
Back in 2019, MX3 Diagnostics launched a hydration testing kit that relies on saliva-based sensing. It is able to detect an athlete’s hydration status using a portable hand-held analyser and a single-use sensing strip. For hydration monitoring: the advantage of this approach (compared to sweat sensors) is that it measures the current hydration status whereas sweat sensors can only track how much fluid is lost from the time the sweat patch was put on by the athlete. However, the merit of sweat sensors is they can track sodium and electrolyte loss which the saliva-based sensing cannot. Thus, MX3 Diagnostics decided to also develop and provide their version of sweat testing kit.
MX3’s sweat capture works in a similar way to most other sweat sensors – athletes stick the sweat patch on their forearm prior to training and the patch would collect sweat throughout the workout. Using the tools provided in the sweat test kit, athletes get their sweat onto the sweat test strip and with the same hand-held device for hydration monitoring (“MX3 Lab”) to analyse their sweat. So with this new release, MX3 is able to provide both sweat testing and hydration testing on a single platform. Their sweat testing kit is now available (in the US and Australia) for pre-order on their website: link. You can also find out more in their press release here: link.
Incus Developed A Wearable To Provide Analytics To Swimmers & Triathletes
Incus is a sports engineering company that developed a wearable sensor solution to measure and analyse a swimmer’s movement. Their approach is very different from anything that is in the market. Exisiting swim tracking devices are mostly either worn on the swimmer’s wrist, or there are the ones that are attached to a swimmer’s goggles. Incus Nova is an IMU sensor placed on the upper back of an athlete and it is secured by means of a vest (or crop top), quite similar to vests used for athlete tracking using GPS sensors.
Not only is the sensor placement unobtrusive, the metrics captured can be more extensive compared to wrist or goggle devices. They (metrics) could include body pitch and roll angles, stroke balance, plus other stroke related metrics and performance metrics. Currently, the sensor is on pre-order and users will have access to analytics tools for swimming. The Incus team has also planned to release analytics for running and cycling down the road using the same hardware setup; which makes it a perfect tool for triathletes. Find out more about how it works in their video below:
And that is our top five sports tech news for January 2020. 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!