PORTLAND, Ore.—Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) in sports, health and fitness have already modernized the pedometer with wearable accelerometers which wirelessly link with smartphones apps for sports training, rehabilitation, calorie-counting, and other health and fitness programs.
Now, second-generation pedometers are being introduced, including models that add gyroscopes to detect rotation, MEMS pressure sensors to track elevation, heart-rate, and to enable more accurate analytics that reflect how hard an athlete is exercising and whether they are working against gravity (going up hills) or with it (down hills).
Pedometers, however, is just the beginning of MEMS in sports, health and fitness—with every major sport and fitness regime currently being automated with MEMS-based development efforts that wirelessly communicate through smartphones to cloud-based computers for analytics and with social-media sites for sharing with friends and fellow athletes.
For instance, Motorola Mobility Inc. (Libertyville, Ill.) recently showed its latest version of a wrist-wearable device using a Freescale MEMS accelerometer to track your steps, distance traveled and speed. A pressure sensor also measures your heart rate, all of which is logged via Bluetooth to a smartphone, which in turn connect to cloud computers that store and analyze the data, then post healthy reminders to your electronic calendar.
Besides pedometers for joggers, MEMS sensors are also being built-into smart devices for nearly every other sport, including skiing, surfing, archery, rowing, golf, tennis, and swimming.
Analog Devices Inc., for instance, is sponsoring research efforts to bring MEMS technology to rowing at Dutch research center Roessingh Research and Development and to football helmets at Symbex LLC (Lebanon, N.H.). X2Impact (Seattle) is building MEMS accelerometer and gyroscope sensors into sports mouthguards for use not only in football, but in non-helmeted sports to detect sports brain injuries such as concussions. ADI's high-precision accelerometers and gyroscopes are also being used in inertial measurement systems that are used in devices made for major motion picture studios by Xsens Technologies BV (Enschede, The Netherlands) to track actor's motions and map them onto animated charaters, like Iron Man.
Likewise, Hillcrest Labs (Rockville, Md.) and Movea (Grenoble, France) both are helping OEMs design motion processing algotithms for sports, health and fitness applications. For instance, Movea's MotionPods accelerometer- and gyroscope-based IMUs are being strapped to the wrists of tennis players and golfers to enable software analytics for training and performance enhancement. Swimmers also using waterproof versions of Movea's Nabaji to measure the lengths and times per lap.
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The following slideshow illustrates examples of MEMS being used in sports, health and fitness.
Nike FuelBand is a high-end pedometer using an accelerometer to count steps and color to provide instant feedback and software to track progress on a smartphone.
I like this market analysis that use MEMS in sports, but looking in the report, I read something that I couldn’t confirm at the present time. It's about the pressure sensor inside MOTOACTV that make heart rate measure. Is this a new version, or is a combined use with headphone SF700/500 that have built-in heart rate monitor, instead use chest belt HRM?
This is a very promising area with sports related applications at the forefront of development. Many of these developments will eventually be adapted for other uses, especially in the health field and should result in big improvements in lifestyle.
I agree with Luis on this one. BLE will play an important role in the future connected sensor devices. My predication is that ANT, ANT+, the current popular protocol for sports/wellness/fitness apps, will be over run simply by the ubiquity offered in smart mobile devices moving to BLE which will act as the communciations hub.
This shows a whole new approach for sports electronics. Now the aim will be to analyze data. I suppose the next question and what will be done with such data?
Looks like the ones that are taking a step further is the company that is analyzing the sleep patterns.
I think Bluetooth Low Energy has an important role in enabling this kind of applications. It isn't till now that we have a low power consumption wireless connection that will be able to have this kind of devices in the Personal Area Network.