Another market that will soon be impacted by wearable sensors is sports broadcasting. If you watch a NASCAR event today, wireless sensors are already providing real time feedback on each car in the race. Information on the car’s speed, gear selection and braking are all available to the viewer from home. Miniature, low-power MEMS sensors are now enabling this type of activity tracking to be available on the individual athlete. Home viewers will soon have access to an entirely new level of statistics that will keep us glued to the game and to help us better appreciate the capabilities of our favorite athletes. Let’s envision several examples.
In the National Football League, if sensors were to be placed on the players and in the ball, viewers may soon be able to get data on the speed of each player as they run down the sidelines, or check the leap height of the receiver as he jumps for the ball in the end zone. What g-forces were encountered on that last hit? Which quarterback throws a tighter and faster spiral? These statistics go beyond simple rushing yards or yards after the catch and will make the game more engrossing for the viewer.
In basketball, which player elevates best on the jump shot? Which shooter has the optimal arch and spin on their shots? In baseball, which outfielders have the quickest reaction to the ball coming of the bat? What was the arm speed and angle from the pitcher on that last curveball?
If you don’t yet believe that sports broadcasting is heading in this direction, there were two great examples in the Summer of 2012 that provided hints to the future. First, at the French Open tennis tournament, the world’s leading racquet manufacturer, Babolat, had tennis stars such as Rafael Nadal demonstrate a concept racquet with an embedded MEMS Motion Tracking device to monitor and report swing characteristics during a practice match. This can also translate to golf as well.
Figure 3: Babolat Play and Connect racquet
Next, MLS Soccer in the US, for their all-star game, equipped each player on the field with wearable sensors from Adidas. Viewers of the game were able to track individual performance statistics for each player from their PC or tablet. This provided yet another hint to the future that sports viewing may soon be a two-screen experience with the game on our big screen TV and real time player statistics on our phones, tablets or PCs.
Figure 4: Adidas miCoach concept for MLS All-star game
There may also come a day where wearable sensing devices could enable subjectively judged sporting events such as gymnastics, diving or surfing to use data from the sensors to more accurately determine the athlete’s score. What were the speed, peak height and rate of rotation of the gymnast during his or her vault? This data could be combined with the judge’s observation of the landing to determine a fair score.