Wearables and Trackers for Competitive Sports

April 20, 2016 by Aaron LaBarbera

These sports wearables and trackers are pushing how we track our performance on and off the field, and how engineers devise ever more svelte packaging and clever ways to improve ourselves.

These sports wearables and trackers are pushing how we track our performance on and off the field, and how engineers devise ever more svelte packaging and clever ways to improve ourselves.

Wearables have become an important part of our everyday lives as they allow us to not only look hip, but they have the ability to monitor multiple aspects of our health. In addition to tracking  heart rate, pulse, and steps taken, they have the ability to make us better athletes. That means running faster, jumping higher, swinging harder, and improving your overall game no matter what it is. Here are a few that are pushing the boundaries of sports wearables and how they track our performance. 


The PIQ multi-sport sensor unit. Courtesy of PIQ


PIQ offers a wearable multi-sport sensor that can be used for sports as varied as skiing, tennis, and golf. The PIQ and its sport-specific apps are clever enough to track parameters like forehand, backhand, overhead smash, volleys, and top-spin for tennis. The skiing app will track edge-to-edge speed, G-force, air time, and rotation. The golf app can analyze and help improve your swing by tracking swing path and club head speed. 



The PIQ sensor is comprised of an ARM M4 Processor, 12-axis sensor, NFC, BTLE 4.0, gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer that tracks your every move. There are also the various kits you can buy that allow the PIQ to fit onto your glove for golf, wrist for tennis, or boot for skiing.  



The Catapult Optimeye S5 outdoor athlete training module. Courtesy of Catapult.

Catapult Optimeye T5, S5,X4

The Optimeye T5, S5, and X4 are wearables that take things up a notch with a full GPS tracking system that works both indoors and outdoors courtesy of their ClearSky indoor positioning system. I know what you’re thinking “yeah, my Garmin watch has GPS blah blah blah”. This is like a GPS watch turned up to 11 Spinal Tap style with a fourth generation 10Hz GPS engine which gives it 10-15cm accuracy. The ClearSky satellite system is comprised of several facility-mounted GPS receivers for zero line of sight worries. It also has the capability to monitor heart rate, collision force, and ball tracking; among other features which traditional GPS can’t offer. The Optimeye also features onboard accelerometers that are accurate from 2-12g and ANT connectivity for peripheral devices.  

All of this adds up to a lightweight, vest mounted device that allows teams to perfect not only the movements and efforts of the individual that wears it but the positioning and performance of the whole team as well. Unfortunately, these toys aren’t available at your nearest Sports Authority unless you play for the New York Giants, AC Milan, or one of their other big league clients.



The inner workings of the Adidas MiCoach Smart Ball.

Adidas MiCoach 

The Adidas MiCoach system brings us full circle as it’s a system with many of the benefits these really intense systems offer, but it’s actually available to people who aren't professional athletes like you and I. What started out as just a fitness wearable has blossomed into being much more than that with MiCoach. You can buy the MiCoach Fit Smart for its basic fitness tracking capabilities or step up to the Smart Run with GPS. The Smart Run features a 1.2 GHz dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP4430 processor, (2) 3-axis accelerometers, and optoelectronics (LED's and photo-detector) for heart rate monitoring. 

The MiCoach system doesn’t end there, though. There is also the X-Cell for tracking acceleration and jump height, and the Speed Cell which goes into the soles of select Adidas shoes that can track the speed and distance of your play. There is even a soccer ball they developed called the Smart Ball. It comes packed with a Texas instruments 16-bit RISC microcontroller, 128kb of non-volatile memory, a multi-axis MEMS eCompass module (3D accelerometer and 3D magnetometer) from STMicroelectronics, and a Nordic Semiconductor Bluetooth module. All of this silicon can track power, spin, strike, and trajectory; while offering tips and help via the companion app.  


These wearables and performance trackers aren’t merely for checking calories burned and steps taken. They are for those who push the limits of their bodies and are designed by engineers who are pushing the limits what wearables and performance trackers can do. As more professional sports teams adopt wearables into their workouts and practices, look for even more of these exciting athletic-performance trackers to hit the market!