Wearable technologies and RTLS
Wearable technologies are rapidly gaining momentum in sports. The term covers everything from simple activity trackers to sophisticated RTLS that precisely track player movements. Actually, the most sophisticated systems combine technologies to give a more complete picture of player performance. They integrate heart rate and pulse with movement data collected by sensors and combine them with RTLS information about the player’s position.
Usually these RTLS use ultra-precise GPS for outdoor and Ultra Wideband or Bluetooth LE for indoor sports. We’ve set out below the main benefits of wearable technologies in sports performance tracking.
New technologies improve player performance
Indoor positioning technologies combined with inertial sensors can track player performance. The most common metrics to track are distance, speed and acceleration. The analytics are designed to improve player’s technical skills and are very much dependent on the type of sport. In basketball, it’s relevant to measure how high players jump; in football it’s more important to determine how well the player controls the ball and moves with it.
RTLS data is also used to improve overall team tactics. Sports applications based on precise coordinates enable instant detection of deviations from an agreed gameplan.
Sports performance tracking prevents injuries
A lot of effort in sports goes into preventing injuries – especially in professional sports, where the stakes are high. Player fatigue and high load can easily result in an injury – and with players commanding ever larger wages, keeping a star player on the bench can be very costly for a team.
Depending on the characteristics of the sport, the conditions that result in an injury are different. It’s not an easy calculation to make, but integrated positioning and sensor data can provide a lot of insight. The system determines moments of high-intensity in the game, which, combined with contextual information, can prevent injuries.
New technologies enhance the viewer experience
Several companies are actively looking into integrating precise positioning data with existing sports performance tracking systems. The main goal is to provide better viewer engagement by offering real-time data on athletes, their performance, sports dynamics and comparative statistics. This can be overlaid with the video feed, thereby giving viewers a “Google glass”-like experience. In addition, sports performance tracking data can be integrated into scoreboards and commentator information systems. All in all, wearable technologies allow the creation of richer content which attracts more viewers and creates additional revenue.
Sports performance tracking is gaining ground and RTLS are an important part of it. Eliko has worked with several sports applications including cycling, basketball and football. In our experience, the key requirement for an RTLS is that it needs to reliably and consistently detect high-speed movements. Thus, the system must offer a high frequency of updates, low latency and good reliability of position coordinates, even in non-line of sight conditions. Ultimately, though, the overall success of the application depends as much on the analytics side as it does on the technology side.