Wearable fitness trackers saw a sharp decline in sales last year, compared with 2016. It begs the question if fitness tracking for the general public is simply a fad: a desperate Christmas purchase hoping to lower your Dad’s cholesterol, buy your girlfriend something other than jewellery (it’s technically different), or because January’s around the corner and you want to join in the 10,000 steps malarkey. It may have had its moment for the average Joe, but the technology is just starting to get into gear in the sports world. Wearables allow for accurate data tracking and reporting which is key to athletic performance. As the technology becomes smaller, lighter, and more agile, it is of greater use to athletes and coaches. Wondering what are the up and coming innovations in wearable tech? Here are our top five…
Augmented Reality glasses
AR glasses are available and in use in a multitude of genres. For sport, it is the apps developed for AR glasses that are making the biggest impact in sports training. Our favourite so far is Off-Season Sports LLC, which only launched at the end of last year. The app is designed for both tennis coaches and players. Virtual reality targets are “placed” around the court, while students aim real balls at them. The app is highly interactive and personal, recording data for post-training feedback. It has further features, such as sensory data and agility ladders. With programmes for all levels, students can move up the rungs from beginners to advanced.
Courtmatics Smart Dampener
This is technically not a wearable, as it attaches to your tennis racquet rather than your body. It is small and light, inserting into your strings like a shock absorber. Placed on your racquet, it monitors your stroke and provides feedback to improve your volley, forehand, backhand, or serve. It also detects string tension and will notify you when it’s time to change strings. Perhaps more impressively, given its location, it can also monitor footwork and track your movements around the court.
Dashtag is a small electronic square that is rucksacked to a football player’s back. Athletes play as normal: it is in the post match feedback sessions that the tag comes into its own. DashTag delivers FIFA style statistics straight to a player’s favourite chat platform. The Dash tracks sprints during a match or training session and gives player feedback specific to football.
Tracktics is similar to Dashtag, but the rectangular pack is belted around the waist. Again aimed at footballers, its main asset is that it tracks the mileage of a team. It calculates a player’s activity and speed over the course of a match and translates it into a graph. A heat map reveals how players moved around the field and whether they can improve their positioning in future.
Jawku claims to have “killed the stopwatch”. It is a watch designed specifically to increase speed, agility, and reaction time. Mainly geared towards future Farahs, Bolts, and Radcliffes, the device links with your phone, which sits proudly at the finish line. Like other wearable tech, it provides key performance data, helping you to shave crucial seconds off your time. For agility, it provides standard tests or the option to build your own drills. Improve your reaction time off the blocks by setting the watch to audio mode. Jawku is set for release on April 1st of this year.