Wearable devices are universally accepted to be at their most useful as a tool for athletes to measure fitness and performance. As such, both startups and major tech companies are looking to corner every niche of the market, from helping sprinters get the best possible start, to ensuring that baseball players nail their slide into home base.
We’ve looked at four technologies which are specifically targeting areas of athletic performance, helping competitors fine tune every aspect of their technique and fitness to give them every possible advantage.
The Vert is a lightweight device worn around the waist that gauges the vertical height of a user's leaps, and sends those measurements to a nearby smartphone or tablet.
The Vert could be considered brilliant in its simplicity, and for managing to corner a large, but fairly niche, market that has previously not been tended to by the wearable market. On the other hand, it could be considered single-minded and irrelevant for the mass market. It really depends on who you ask. However, for basketball players, volleyball players, jumprope enthusiasts, and short people who have trouble reaching things on high shelves, the Vert could prove to be an extremely useful aid.
The 94fifty is a regulation basketball with a sensor that measures shot accuracy, dribble, and general technique. It comes with an accompanying app, available with iPhone and Android devices, that provides an instant critique of what you’re doing, and allows users to track their stats over time, so players can monitor how the recommended changes to their technique are having an impact. The critique is also provided in a coach’s voice, which is an exciting addition if you like that sort of thing.
The Babolat Play is a connected tennis racket with sensors in the handle. These record a whole range of data about a player’s game - including shot power, ball impact location on the racket, spin, technique, and many others. This information is transmitted to a nearby smartphone for analysis. It is already being used by a number of the biggest names in the sport, including Rafael Nadal.
SwingTracker is the new baseball swing sensor from Diamond Kinetics that tracks hand speed; quickness, or time to impact; power, or momentum generated; and control of the bat during the swing.
The SwingTracker device is attached to the knob of the bat using a flexible strap. Raw data is uploaded to a Cloud server for storage and web access, which lets coaches and players break down swings in more detail than would be possible on the mobile platform, although there is also an app available on iPhones. The app also generates a three-dimensional animation for each swing, allowing players to break down their swing frame by frame from all angles.