Sports Tech Roundup: Better Safety and Performance Through Sensors and GPS

September 05, 2018 by Donald Krambeck

In this roundup, we'll take a look at some recent sports technology advancements.

As sports become more competitive, accurately analyzing athletes' bodies and movements becomes more important. Here's a look at some examples of how sensors and GPS tracking enable athletes to up their game.

Everything from industrial applications to personal devices has experienced extraordinary change over the last few years due to advancements such as cloud-based connectivity, neural networks, 3D metal printing, shrinking transistors, and more. But what about sports technology?

In this article, we'll look at different devices and how they're helping athletes' performance, safety, and training. 

GPS Units for Individual Athlete Monitoring

PLAYERTEK from Catapult Sports is a GPS tracking system that incorporates a vest to help coaches enhance their players and team as a whole through analytical statistics. Catapult believes that their product will help players get the most out of their practices and workouts.

PLAYERTEK also includes a pod that incorporates a gyroscope and accelerometer for maximum analytics. The pod shown below has a 10 Hz GPS for ultimate coverage, a 400 Hz Tri-axis accelerometer that can compress to 100 Hz for storage needs, a 10 Hz tri-axis magnetometer, and a large 500 MAH Li-ion battery that can operate for up to seven hours.


The pod and screengrabs from the app. Image courtesy of PLAYERTEK.


The sports vest has a nook for their pod that is placed on the players back, close to the neck for best transmission. The data is sent to an app that is on both iOS and Android. Information such as distance, speed, power plays, passes, etc. are displayed and can be sent to social media through the app. Coaches can monitor almost everything as well as set milestones to record their players advancements. PLAYERTEK also includes a heat-map as to where the most activity is happening on the field, as well. 

PLAYERTEK can be worn in sports such as soccer, rugby, football, Gaelic sports, lacrosse, and basketball. Catapult is focusing on amateur sports teams in soccer and football, but they have also been used by the Golden State Warriors, too.

Magnetic Gates for Precise Time Tracking for Slalom Skiers

Researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed a magnetic gate that can provide useful feedback for slalom skiers and their team.

Traditionally, slalom ski coaches could record begin, intermediate, and end times for athletes' races but they didn't have anything information between those data points. While modern recording technology has made it easier to assess a skier's run, every fraction of a second counts in competitive racing.

Through the use of magnets, with one on the skier and one on each pole, coaches can track statistics much more accurately over an accelerometer or gyroscope. 



The research was conducted at the EFPL's Laboratory of Movement Analysis and Measurement, part of their Interschool Institute of Bioengineering, led by Dr. Kamiar Aminian. The magnetic system is rather ingenious as the magnetic field grows in strength as the skier rounds past each gate. Doctoral Assistant Benedikt Fasel and his team have found that if they have the amplitude of the magnetic field, they can then calculate the distance. With both of these values known, they can calculate the skier's exact distance from the gate and find their speed.

The team's goal is to help alpine skiers base their line choice off of scientific data rather than intuition, as well as analyze their strengths and weaknesses while performing. 

Analyzing Body Motion for Cyclists

LEOMO, a sports IoT device company, is working on the next big thing for helping cyclists perform their absolute best. The company has created a device, the TYPE-R, which consists of a handlebar-mounted touchscreen and five sensors. Inside of these sensors are gyroscopes and accelerometers that measure a rider's motion and form while cycling.


Image courtesy of LEOMO.


LEOMO believes that motion analysis is the answer to giving the best real-time feedback on foot position, leg angle, pedaling "dead spots", and pelvic tilt on a bike seat. The sensors are placed on the thighs, feet, and pelvis, which allows for the most accurate measurements.

With over 100 data points per second of real-time data, LEOMO can paint a precise picture of how a cyclist moves. Their handlebar unit can track power, power balance, cadence, speed, and heart rate. These values can be displayed as graphs, which allows the user to track data over time visually. 


What sports tech has impressed you recently? Share your thoughts in the comments below.