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Sports Tech Improves Health, Safety and Performance

Fitness technology has been a focus of CES since the dedicated Marketplace in 2011 where the now ubiquitous  fitness activity band emerged as the first wearable products designed for athletes and health conscious consumers. Fast-forward to CES 2018 and new technologies are improving the health,  performance and safety of athletes regardless of ages or ability.

Advancements like sensor-embedded clothing, concussive impact detection devices and fitness coaching platforms continue to drive the growth of the health and fitness tech market. CTA  estimates that shipments of health  and fitness devices increased by 30 percent in 2017 to more than seven million units. The popularity of fitness technology is also reflected in data provided by the National Sporting Goods Association, which estimates that  sporting electronics account for nearly  a quarter of the $68 billion spent on sporting goods in the U.S. each year.

Fitness trackers represented the  first break-out product for the sports and fitness technology market. More importantly, the popularity of fitness bands has increased awareness for the importance of daily physical activity. According to  the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) nearly four in ten U.S. adults suffer  from obesity, increasing the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. With more than 26 million  fitness activity bands shipped in 2017,  an expanding number of consumers  are empowered to increase their daily physical activity in the hopes of improving personal health, reducing obesity and lowering healthcare costs.

Sports Safety

In sports, recent advancements in fitness technology seek to improve player safety by reducing the severity and occurrence of injury. Perhaps the most significant risk for children playing high impact sports including football, hockey, lacrosse, snowboarding and soccer is a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). The CDC estimates 329,000 children are treated annually for sports related injuries that include a diagnosis of a concussion or  TBI. A wave of new concussive detection devices like i1 Biometrics’s Shockbox,  Jolt Athletic’s Jolt and Riddell’s Insite use sensors to monitor player activity from the sidelines and immediately alert coaches and athletic trainers to potentially serious impacts in order to protect players.

Beyond health and safety, personalized fitness is now a reality with the incorporation of sensor-embedded clothing, virtual reality and artificial intelligence technology. CES exhibitors like Sensoria have developed a platform integrating smart clothing to provide real-time activity monitoring that integrates with a user’s smartphone  to provide customized coaching advice. Similarly, for athletes interested in improving their throwing accuracy, Wilson’s X football can measure distance, spin rate velocity and spiral efficiency. For athletes looking for an unconventional immersive full-body workout, platforms like the soonto-be released Black Box VR incorporates  a virtual reality headset and deploys artificial intelligence for a customized and  progressively intense workout regimen.

Advancements including artificial  intelligence and smart textiles provide  a glimpse into the future direction of sports and fitness technology and the potential to further improve the safety  and performance of athletes.

Bobby Baumler