The biggest sporting event of the summer has arrived, bringing together impressive elite athletes, dedicated fans, and innovative technologies. Software and data have become critical components of many athletes’ training regimens. While some of these technologies—like wearable heart rate monitors—are well known to the average sports fan, athletes use many more complex tech tools to better their performance. In the spirit of summer athletics, let’s look at some of BSA’s member companies’ contributions to sports technology:
- The USA Women’s Cycling Team uses IBM’s cognitive computing and advanced analytics to improve their performance in Pursuit Cycling, a sport in which the team competes as a single unit. IBM’s Watson Internet of Things Platform, Analytics, and the IBM cloud work together to show real-time data, which the cyclists can view in their eyewear and the coaches can view on a dashboard.
- The Microsoft Band 2, used by elite runners and cyclists, goes beyond simply recording heartrate and sleep. This wearable calculates calories, fats, and carbs burned; tracks athletes’ maximum, minimum, and average speeds; and even records UV exposure during training. The band can also examine the user’s heartrate and compare it to previously recorded data to determine his or her cardio progress.
- ANSYS’ engineering simulation technology produces highly complex models of athletic performance and equipment. These models mimic real-world behavior to predict and address possible challenges. By varying the data in the models, designers can create equipment that helps minimize the risk of injury while improving an athlete’s performance.
- By analyzing 15 years’ worth of NFL data last year, Splunk was able to accurately predict plays during football games. In doing so, Splunk proved how helpful big data is for coaches and players—whether the data analysis is used to predict a competitor’s next move or fake them out by doing the opposite of what they expect.
- Thanks to a research project conducted by Oracle, stadium operators can deliver a more efficient and innovative experience to fans by improving inventory management, loyalty rewards, and third-party integrations for in-seat ordering. For example, in a recent survey conducted by Oracle, the company found that food and beverage technology is being underused in stadiums, despite a strong demand from sports fans. This finding is paving the way for the adoption of mobile ordering.
Fans also benefit from advances in software and, in particular, the power of cloud computing. Before major sporting events were broadcast live on television, geographic location restricted most of the world from enjoying these competitions as they happened. Today, the Summer Games are more available than ever. Thanks to streaming services enabled by Microsoft Azure’s cloud services and Adobe Primetime delivery, fans will be able to watch the Games on their phones, laptops, tablets, and even in virtual reality. They’ll have access to a wealth of statistics and predictions at their fingertips, as well as the ability to share updates and reactions in real time via social media.
It’s clear that technology continues to enrich the athletic experience for spectators as well as athletes. Just think: since the last Summer Games, we’ve seen breakthroughs in connectivity, mobile technology, 3D printing, drones, robotics, and health monitoring devices, all of which impact athletes, coaches, and fans in some way. Who knows what the next four years will bring?