ports technology might start to disappear in 2017. Don’t worry, the end isn’t near; now isn’t the time to repent. Wearable gadgets are here to stay, and the data stream from sports is only going to get bigger and bigger. But the greatest technological advancement to come in the next couple of years could just be invisibility.
Fitbits, Apple Watches, and other wearables have become an ever-present sight at many sports events.
“If we were to go show up at a marathon somewhere, my bet would be that everybody in that first corral has a wearable on, if not more than one,” says Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association. “They consider that as important as, if not more important than other things that they might have on.”
In April, MLB approved the use of two wearables, a compression sleeve that tracks the workload of a pitcher’s arm made by Motus Global and a heart-monitoring strap made by Zephyr. The NFL also expanded use of the Zebra RFID player tracking system to all 33 stadiums used through the 2016 season.
But visible wearables can also attract unwanted attention. Cavaliers point guard Matthew Dellavedova was banned by the NBA from using a Whoop wristband at the end of last season. There are also bigger problems with the wrist-worn platform.
“We’re measuring things in the wrong area of the body,” says Paul Robbins, who works with pro teams to evaluate technology as director of elite performance at STATS LLC. “There’s nothing on the market today that really truly will give us the data that we need.”
Wrist-worn devices don’t provide the same quality of heart function data that a full ECG test would, and accelerometers placed on an extremity can’t give accurate information on the movement of the body’s center of mass—waving your hands can be an effective way to hit your daily 10,000-step goal on many activity monitors.
The answer to those problems might be switching wearables fashion from watches to clothes. If devices can be sewn into fabric or hidden inside shoes, they can be placed exactly where they need to be, wirelessly connected together, to gain the greatest insight.
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