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ISSUE 5

SPORTS TECH IN 2014 WHAT ARE WE GOING TO SEE IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS?

SPORTS ANALYSIS IN YOUTH SPORTS VISUALIZING MOVEMENT DATA IN TENNIS HOW TO WATCH SPORT AND TEACH ENGINEERING


Contents

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Contents Damien Saunder (Formerly Demaj) presents a diorama of player movement in sports

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Youth Sports Analysis is discussed by Darren Spurrier, professional soccer coach

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We look at how Tribesports are re-imagining the way sports apparel is designed and sold

How are companies using sports to teach engineering? Sam Strickling gives us the lowdown

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We take a look at the original Jawbone UP ahead of the launch of the new UP 24

Simon Barton takes a look at Adidas’ revolutionary new smartwatch

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We investigate the new Monster Headphones, primed to revolutionise sports audio

We take a look at the top baselayers for the winter and spring training season

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We look ahead to the next 12 months and what we expect to see in sports technology and techniques


Editor’s Letter

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Letter From The Editor Welcome to the first issue of das Smart Run, the best Sports Performance & Tech- base layer for the cold seasons and the Monster iSnology of 2014. We hope to build on the great port headphones to keep momentum that we have seen you updated on the latest in the past 8 months since the in sports technologies curmagazine was first launched. rently hitting the market.

And finally we make our predictions about what to expect in sports performance We are certainly kicking off and technology in the next 2014 with a bang and we 12 months. have some great articles in As always, if you like the magazine, please share it. this edition. We are aiming to make it even bigger and better in the next 12 months.

Damien Saunder shows us If you are interested in consome of the work he is doing tributing, please contact me on player movement around at ghill@theiegroup.com. a tennis court. This story follows on from his two popular articles on player movement in tennis last year. As we are finding more analytics appearing in sports, Sam Strickling demonstrates how he is using people’s passion for sport to help teach them new engineering techniques and improve the uptake in engineering programmes.

George Hill Managing Editor

Are you are looking to put We also look at the ways in your products in front of key which Tribe Sport are revolu- decision makers? tionising sports apparel deFor Advertising contact sign and sales to consumers Hannah at hsturgess@ using social networks to make theiegroup.com collaborative decisions. For Reviews contact George Our team of reviewers take a at ghill@theiegroup.com look at the Jawbone UP, Adi-

Managing Editor: George Hill Assistant Editors Simon Barton Catherine Jackson Art Director: Gavin Bailey Advertising: Hannah Sturgess hsturgess@sportsperformancetech.com

Contributors: William Tubbs Darren Spurrier Damien Saunder (formerly Demaj) Sam Strickling Freddie Faull General Enquiries: Editor@sportsperformancetech.com


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Damien Saunder

Presenting a Diorama of Player Movement in Sport Damien Saunder (Formerly Demaj) Geospatial Designer


Diorama

Visualizing and understanding player movement in sport has enormous advantages in relation to an athlete’s match day performance, training and recovery. Automated player tracking in recent years has become a must-have tool for sport scientists, coaches, and analysts. The spread of player tracking now spans a multitude of sports from the Australian Football League (AFL) to the NBA. From the EPL to the ATP. Sport scientists and coaches are monitoring a player’s every move, both on and off the field. However, preparing easy-to-understand visualizations of space-time data, like player tracking, that support analysis and decision-making provides an ongoing challenge to data scientists and cartographers alike [1]. In this article I present a Diorama of Player Movement using a Space Time Cube. The Space Time Cube is a 3D visualization method introduced by Swedish geographer Torsten Hägerstrand in the 1970’s. Space Time Cube visualizations present users with the full spatio-temporal data set in a single, comprehensive view [1]. By contrast, traditional 2D representations of spatio-temporal information require multiple maps, animations, or time sliders to display how the data changes over time. A Space Time Cube pulls the temporal component of the data apart, stretching it along the

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vertical axis of the cube, which enables the users to clearly see changes in the data over time. This unique 3D visualization helps better understand the interaction of the spatial and temporal components of player tracking data. In this article I will demonstrate some of the advantages of Space Time Cubes for visualizing and understanding the DNA of player movement in sport. Hawk-Eye Player Tracking Data Hawk-Eye began tracking player movement in tennis in 2011. The player tracking system utilizes its core ball tracking technology (Figure 1). Recently I was granted access to official HawkEye player tracking data from the Roger Federer v Paul-Henri Mathieu match at the Swiss Indoors in Basel, 2012, which Federer won 7-5, 6-4, in 1hr 26min.

Figure 1. Hawk-Eye uses eight cameras situated around the court to track the path of each player in real-time. Picture: Sam Rosewarne. Source: Mercury


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Diorama

The Hawk-Eye Data format Hawk-Eye collects its player tracking data at 0.05 sec intervals. The data is collected at the point level of a match. In the Federer v Mathieu match there were 198 points played resulting in 53,440 data points for the match. Each point in the match is stored in the database as a single xml file. The variables collected by the system are x,y,z co-ordinates plus time (Figure 2). The time variable resets itself at the start of each point. The file name of each xml file represents the set, game and point number, and whether the point is a first or second serve. Visualizing Player Movement in Tennis Player movement in tennis is typically summarized by distance covered, direction, and speed of movement of players. For the purpose of this example, I created a player velocity map using a static 2D representation. In order to create the player velocity map I classified the data into four categories. Figure 4 is a simple way of presenting relative speed using a green to red color scheme for each point in the dataset. However, this representation makes it difficult to see how the path of the player and their velocity is changing over time. We also only see a portion of the data at any one

Figure 2. An extract from the player tracking data collected by Hawk-Eye.

time. In this case, the most recent player movement ‘paths’ are drawn on top of the earlier ‘paths’, making it difficult to identify the distribution and frequency of player velocity. In order to improve the representation we might consider animating the data, or, creating a series of small static maps which each present a time period from the match. We may also consider introducing an interactive element to the map like a time slider. Each of these methods have the potential to enable us to see how the data is changing over time, and therefore eliminate the issue of overlapping data. Whatever approach is taken the fundamental issue of viewing the data in a two-dimensional plane remains. Animation, small multiples or time sliders all allow us ways to slice through the data and see different moments but none give us clarity when trying to look at the match as a whole.

Introducing a Diorama of Player Movement for Tennis Perhaps a more suitable, but rarely seen method for visualizing spatio-temporal data in sport is to use a Space Time Cube. By building a Space Time Cube we are able to disaggregate the overlapping player movement lines by using the y axis of the cube to represent time. The min y value represents the start of the match and the max y value the end of the match. Along the base of the cube represents the x, y movement of the players - the planar court (Figure 5). The Diorama of Player Movement enables us to see the spread and frequency of the four player velocity categories more clearly. By using the third-dimension we can be more confident about making judgments about movement patterns in the match because we have a full view of the dataset.


Diorama

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form means the visualizations can then be shared amongst players, and other stakeholders (Figure 6).

Figure 4. Creating a static 2D map of player velocity. White = walking, green = jogging, orange = running, and red = sprinting.

Figure 3. The player velocity classification used in Figure 4 – walking, jogging, running and sprinting.

A drawback of the Space-Time cube has been the presentation of a single view as a static image (as in Figure 5). The inherent problems of trying to understand the data from a perspective view mean that in some respects it creates a mass of data points that are difficult to visually disentangle, much like a 2D static map. Therefore orientation, navigation and human interaction of the cube are central to its appeal and usability. The rapid advancement of web technology, in particular WebGL means these complex visualizations can be rendered directly in the browser to create an interactive version. This gives analysts and sport scientists an opportunity to explore the scene by panning, zooming and tilting from any viewpoint and overcomes the drawbacks of a static view. Using the web as a plat-

The 360° view of the scene means we can also quickly compare patterns between both players at any angle. For example, from behind each player we can visualize over time the extent of his or her lateral movement throughout the match (Figure 7). There are extended periods of time in the 3rd and 7th game of the 2nd set where Federer’s movement is clearly trending to the left side of center, most likely as a result of Mathieu targeting his backhand during these games. Through games 4 to 9 in the 1st set Mathieu’s movement was often short in both time and length, which perhaps implies the points in each game were short due to successful serving, or unsuccessful return of serves. We are also able to analyze who is attacking and playing on the baseline. We can very quickly see the player position change over time during the match (Figure 8). The Diorama of Player Movement diagram shows us that Mathieu spent more time playing inside the baseline than Federer did. Up until the 7th game, Federer was playing mostly from behind the baseline, rarely pressing forward for any


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Diorama

frequency of player movement more clearly. Using the third-dimension of the cube to disaggregate the data means we can be more confident about making judgments about movement patterns because of the full view of the dataset. The web is providing teams, coaches, and analysts with a powerful platform to view, share and collaborate their projects. Browsers are fast beFigure 5. The Diorama of coming very capable of renderPlayer Movement. A Space Time Cube visualization. ing large quantities of big data, meaning that representations of extended periods of time. Nei- data being collected from Optither player appear to be playing cal sensors and GPS, like player on average deeper than usual (> tracking can be viewed and in3m) behind the baseline. teracted with en masse. From the side perspective we can also see the frequency of forward movement over time by each player, whether it is in attack or defense. In the 1st set Federer moved deep inside the court only 4 times in the first 11 games, where Mathieu was much more active in this area of movement, moving forward 11 times. This trend was reversed in the second set. Federer was far more active in his forward movement (9 times) compared to Mathieu (3 times).

There is little value in focusing on singular variables in sport. The interaction with other variables is where the real value lies. For example, in tennis it is not

Conclusion The Diorama of Player Movement presents a unique way of visualizing player movement in a three-dimensional space. The single, comprehensive view offered by a Space Time Cube enables us to see the spread and

Figure 6 The interactive Diorama of Player Movement application. The three-dimensional scene offers an unrivalled viewing experience of player movement data.

See the App: http://bit.ly/1jboq2m


Diorama

Figure 7. A side-by-side comparison of each player’s lateral movement. The 1m distance markers can be used as a reference for court position. The line surrounding the cube roughly half way up represents the end of set 1, start of set 2.

about how fast you move, it is how fast you move relative to the ball [3]. The Space Time Cube has the potential to manage and display this second tier of contextual information. Thus opening up opportunities of linking player movement to other variables like ball speed, direction and success of shot making. Maps have been used to stimulate visual thinking about geospatial patterns, relationships and trends for centuries [4].Optical sensors, GPS, and other wearable technologies are collecting never seen before geo data. Different datasets force a different view, different questions force a different representation, and different audiences force a different approach. It is not uncommon to see multiple

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Figure 8. The baseline walls allow us to monitor the players position change over time in relation to the baseline. The (Federer - right, Mathieu - left).

representations of the same theme in order to fully understand the pattern, relationship or trend. However the Space Time Cube is a powerful stand-alone visualization, that reigns supreme for its ability to convey complex spatio-temporal patterns.

Damien Saunder (formerly Demaj) is a Geospatial Designer at Esri where he designs and builds online interactive maps. He is continually rethinking spatial analytics for tennis via GameSetMap.com.

References

library/papers_2005/msc/gfm/xia.pdf

[1] Per Ola Kristensson et el, “An Evaluation of Space Time Cube Representation of Spatio Temporal Patterns,” IEEE Trans. Visualization andComputer Graphics, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 696-702, July/Aug. 2009.

[3] Hassan, F “Movement: An Essential to Shot Making”, http://www.itftennis.com/shared/medialibrary/ pdf/original/IO_8551_original.PDF

[2] Li, X, “New Methods of visualization of multivariable spatio-temporal data”, 2005, http://www.itc.nl/

[4] Kraak, M. “The Space Time Cube Revisited from a Geovisualization Perspective,” Proc. 21st Int’l Cartographic Conf., pp. 1988-1996, 2003.


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SPORTS ANALYTICS INNOVATION SUMMIT 26th & 27th March, London 2014

SPEAKERS INCLUDE:

For more information contact Daniel Watts

+44 (207) 617 7143 dwatts@theiegroup.com theinnovationenterprise.com/summits


Youth Sport Analysis

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The Use Of Performance Analysis In Youth Sports Darren Spurrier Professional Soccer Coach Tumar / Shutterstock.com


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Youth Sport Analysis

I first began using performance analysis with my youth soccer team in 2009. I decided that I would analyze a player’s performance in training as well as match day. I believe it is important to evaluate performance because first and foremost it enables me to measure performance both individually and collectively. I like to use stats to motivate my players into achieving a higher level of play. Evaluating performance also goes a long way towards a player’s personal development. Evaluating performance goes some way into evaluating my performance also, for example, has my communication been effective? did my players understand what I wanted from them? These things are huge in determining my own performance both on the training pitch and in games. I use a number of methods for performance analysis. The first is Video/DVD. All games and practices are recorded. This allows me to paint a picture for the players to help get my message across. The recording of the practice sessions is mainly used as a guide for myself and the coaching staff. The match is usually edited to highlight the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that were set for the team both defensively and offensively. On match day I have my assistants track the set Key Performance Indicators using an app on the iPad. There are a number of apps available ranging from

very basic to more in-depth, depending on what each coach is looking for. We like to use the Performa sports app that can actually be used for a number of sports. It’s a free app that allows us to input already set Key Performance Indicators and track at a touch of the pad. We are also able to analyze individual performance set out by individual player profiles/job descriptions. By evaluating performance this also gives me an idea as to what I need to work on with my teams in practice as it is always good to have evidence of what needs improving i.e. fitness, shooting etc. By evaluating performance this gives me the physical evidence I need and also can at times open my eyes to underlying problems. As a coach I am always striving to improve my team and by evaluating performance I am able to do that, by having the stats to hand I am able to be objective rather than subjective. This really helps at half time during a game when there is not a lot of time. The app allows me to put across objective feedback rather than subjective and keeps points clear and concise. By evaluating performance, I can prepare my team for the next game, this makes training the week before a game a lot more pro active and can lead to more success as the opposition have been evaluated/ assessed for weaknesses and strengths. Training is then planned


Youth Sport Analysis

accordingly and then recorded, allowing myself and the coaching staff to analyze player performance in practice as well as ourselves. By using the stats from evaluating performances this helps me to paint a picture for my players, making things a lot clearer for them. I am very careful and aware to use all information in a positive or constructive manner and by doing this my players buy into its use and ultimately allows all involved to achieve success. Before pre-season I sit down with my coaching staff and we set out our “Key Performance Indicators” KPI for the season. By setting out clear KPI's that all of the coaches sign off on, we can deliver valuable feedback to individual players. All of the KPI's are then put into the app ready for match day. By recording games and practice sessions I can assure effective delivery and make sure my analysis is correct. I will also be able to confirm that the players understand this as it paints the picture. All this adds up to player development as well as valuable information on where we need to work on to improve the team collectively. I also use the KPI’s as an evaluation of my own professional development, Are the KPI’s suitable to the objectives I want to achieve with the team i.e. style of play? are they conducive to the team? Player profiles and job descriptions are also developed and given to the players at the beginning of the season. This allows me to evaluate players against the profiles and set KPI's that have been established. The players sign off on these and this actually gives them some ownership of their own development.

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We are always looking for new writers for the magazine, to spread new insight and ideas into new techniques, technologies and training If you want to contribute please contact editor@sportsperformancetech.com


Watch Sport, Teach Engineering

Watch Sports, Teach Engineering Sam Strickling Product Manager – Sports Science, National Instruments

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Watch Sport, Teach Engineering

I watch sports in a different way. Rather than marvelling at Ray Allen’s near mathematically perfect jump shot, I’m curious to see if there are potential ways of getting him open more often through predictive path planning. To me, a home run ball does not just leave the park, but it also carries a tremendous amount of data which can be used for anything from designing new stadium wall depths to analyzing how baseball bats will react in different climates. When I watch sports, I see science, physics and a unique way to engage the next generation of engineering students.

sports technology can deliver this, but what does this mean for the engineers that support these athletic endeavors?

Data is everywhere. Every play, every breath, and every piece of turf can be captured, analyzed and used to make important decisions that can be the difference between victory and defeat. Patterns and predictive algorithms now complement plyometrics and supplements as part of the equation that is modern-day sports. Today’s sports teams now rely on brains as much as brawn. Developing safer equipment to prevent injuries is as important as the Historically, sports have not technologies and medicines been associated with science used while rehabilitating. and engineering, but over the Positioning the proper personnel past few years the sports indus- in a lineup is as valuable as try has invested more time and raw talent and all of this is money incorporating technology made possible through science, into athletics. This includes everything from equipment design for improved durability and performance, biometric research about the health and safety of athletes, and even the psychology of “group think” and other behavioral studies. In the end, ultimiately, every coach, trainer, team and individual athlete is looking for a competitive edge and


Watch Sport, Teach Engineering

technology and analytics. The casual fan may have heard of QBR or Quarterback Ranking (a qualitative measure of a quarterback’s performance and a way to compare quarterbacks against each other on an independent scale), but a quick trip to ESPN Stats.com will reveal advanced algorithmic comparisons that could make a Harvard Statistician blush.

Sports science has found its way into popular culture as well. TV shows, movies and books now top best seller lists, and with the popularity of shows like ESPN’s “Sports Science”; hundreds of mobile apps that can track your fitness goals; and personal training devices like the Adidas miCoach or Nike Fuel Band; it is fair to say that technology has become a vital part of the game;

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but what can it teach us? If you have been following recent news, it’s no secret that there is a lack of students enrolling in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs and pursuing careers in these fields. The U.S. is losing the battle of inspiring students to see STEM as exciting or relatable. In turn, we are graduating students at a rate that is far below the present and future demands of industry though professions that require STEM skills continue to grow. This is where sports technology becomes more than just part of the game. Getting students to associate STEM education with something that they know and care about, like sports, is critical not only to their engagement in the classroom, but gives real-world context to otherwise complex or abstract ideas. For instance, instead of teaching the concept of deceleration due to atmospheric conditions, take the class outside and have them run into the wind. Try using the swimming team to display drag and have them investigate inelastic collisions by watching a professional football game. Students at all ages become more interested in STEM when it is presented in such a way that it almost seems like recess. At National Instruments (NI), we build the hardware and software tools that engineers use to design systems. Everything from smartphones to medical devices


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Watch Sport, Teach Engineering

and even spacecraft are built and tested using our tools; including sports technology. Using our products, engineers of all kinds are able to speed up their innovation and discovery. For instance, in 2013, NI partnered with Specialized Bicycle Components to build the world’s first custom wind tunnel used for sports to test their prototypes and sponsored athletes. Cycling is a sport where seconds often dictate the podium; therefore, it is critical to understand and optimize each factor affecting a rider’s body and cycle at every stage of the race. We helped Specialized create an accurate way to measure and test the effects of real-world aerodynamic drag on their bicycles and riders; and in doing so, Specialized can continue developing faster, safer bicycles and helping athletes race smarter and more efficiently. Better yet, the innovations discovered here will not only give Specialized athletes a competitive advantage, but will make biking to work faster and easier for the everyday commuter. Projects like this are not only technically challenging and of benefit to many people, but they provide a real world example for students that answers the question, ‘When will I ever use this’? For the last few years, my role at NI has been to put these same technologies in the hands of un-

dergraduate students across the country in an effort to familiarize them with our products before they graduate and become professional engineers. I’m responsible for getting students to not only understand complex engineering concepts, but to build projects and actually “Do Engineering” before they graduate. I’ve found that the actual topic of the project rarely matters as long as the students gain an understanding of the practical applications of what they learn in the classroom. Over the past few semesters, I’ve worked with students at several universities to develop different engineering projects that demonstrate sports science concepts. One of earliest projects and most popular


Watch Sport, Teach Engineering

examples was a swimming study I conducted in 2011 with a group of mechanical engineering students from the University of Texas. The team was challenged with designing and building a training platform that swimmers could use to investigate their reaction speeds and body positioning as they entered the water. This project was a great success not only for the students, but NI estimated that those students achieved a 200% increase in the understanding of our hardware and software versus previous semesters using different projects and technologies.

Since the project at UT, I have gone on to sponsor more than 20 teams and over 100 students in sports technology projects and professors across the country have quickly realized their effectiveness. I now have more interest in my “Qualitative Free-Throw Analysis” projects than some of the more traditional academic offerings. These teams have done everything from underwater swimming analysis to eye tracking, and the quality of the deliverables is outstanding. These students go on to become professional engineers and scientists in a variety of fields, ranging

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from computer science to biochemistry. The tools, experience and knowledge these students possess is something that will help them in whatever ventures they pursue in the future. They understand engineering because it was presented to them in a digestible way they can relate to, through sports. Engineering isn’t rocket science – it’s sports science. To see a video of the University of Texas’ Swimming and Diving Project visit http://bit. ly/16kP1oI


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Tribesports

Tribesports: A Social Sports Apparel Experiment Freddie Faull Endurance Athlete


Tribesports

Every once in a while an idea comes along that changes an industry. From Steve Jobs rethinking the way that people interact with their mobile phone to Henry Ford creating a motorised vehicle. These ideas changed the status quo and took these industries in a new direction. There have been innovations in sports apparel and technologies such as the use of lycra in athletics, ice baths in recovery and strapping in injury prevention, but these have been improvements on the system rather than breaking away from it altogether. Tribesports is a company who are trying to make the move away from the status quo in sports apparel and technology.

are common practice within the industry and are naturally going to impact on the pricing of the products. In addition to the pricing, Tribesports realized that there was a disconnect between the development of products and the end user. Although the large multinational companies would have focus groups, in reality this is only ever going to be a small sample of those individuals who use it. With this limitation there is little chance of every demographic having a say in the design and manufacture of the products that they will eventually be wearing.

It was once the case that only the largest companies could analyze data to create the most effective products, they could test using labs and data from athletes to create the most effective apparel for them. Tribesports realized that we are now going through a personal analytics revolution and saw that the people who would be wearing this equipment could be the It would be unfair to aim this at ones who input the data all sportswear companies, but to create the product. the fact is that multi-million dollar endorsements for athletes With this crowd sourced idea in mind, their customHaving amassed a network of around 200,000 sports and fitness enthusiasts and developed new apps and social sourcing using this, they would seem to be more of a fitness Facebook than a challenger to the established sportswear companies. They have however recently moved into sports apparel production, not attaching the brand to a famous athlete or event to gain status. Instead they have used the social movement in order to create what people actually want as opposed to what they are told they want.

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Tribesports

ers could also choose colour, technical features and even model the product themselves as opposed to having a sculpted athlete doing so. This gave them the connection to the clothes that could not be achieved in the traditional development path normally conducted behind closed doors. Alongside this Tribe Sport created a kickstarter campaign in order to crowdsource the initial funding for the project. The success of this idea was demonstrated through this campaign, that originally had a target of $30,000, but within 2 weeks had reached $115,000. This was a clear indication that this kind of social product creation was something that people wanted. Tribesports were also listening to their large network of sports enthusiasts and one of the main gripes that they heard was the

pricing of good quality sportswear. There was a clear choice that had to be made between price and quality. The reason for the high prices was often the middle men within the supply chains, the celebrity endorsements and the expensive development and production. Therefore Tribesports believed that they could cut out these expensive stages and pass the savings on to their network of dedicated and loyal fitness fans. By cutting out indirect sellers, endorsements and expensive development savings are passed onto the customer, with a 40% saving on the equipment. This seems to be a revolution in the way in which people choose their sportswear, moving away from ‘I bought this vest and I like it’ to ‘We all helped design this vest and we like it’.


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europe’s biggest

event Come to the Wearable Technology Show, at London’s Olympia on the 18th & 19th March 2014. n See Google Glass, smart watches, activity trackers and much more n Over 50 top name speakers n Product demonstrations of the latest technology

www.wearabletechnologyshow.net


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Adidas Smart Run

Review: Adidas Smart Run Simon Barton Assistant Editor


Adidas Smart Run

One of the most talked about sports technology products of the last six months has been the Adidas Smart Run. It not only allows tracking of activities during a workout, but also through this tracking allows for customised training. For instance, the ability to improve cardiovascular performance through the monitoring of heart rate and the improvement of times through location tracking using the inbuilt GPS. The Smart Run stands 15.6mm from the wrist, making it relatively large, but with a weight of 80.5 grams it does not feel particularly bulky when worn.

It also includes a 1.45 inch touchscreen, is sweat proof and claims to have a 4-8 hour battery life. Their is a swipe interface, using directional finger movements to access the various screens including your workout history, planned workouts and the music player. It also includes a basic watch function when in idle mode and activation of the watch is done through a single button that allows users to use the touchscreen, lock the watch or turn it on/off. I particularly liked the inbuilt music player. This makes it a gadget that is not only an aid to improve sports

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performance, but also as a useful tool to use during regular training sessions. The ability to pair the watch with bluetooth headphones means that the problem that runners experience with wires from headphones to music players is eliminated. That this is also the key to the personalised coaching, with instructions given through the headphones, is also a big plus and certainly motivated me to push myself further and improve my performances. The only issue that I found with this was that the package does not include bluetooth headphones, although this is


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Adidas Smart Run

a minor gripe. The personalised coaching offered through the MiCoach Smart Run is also improved with the option of downloading specific plans from the MiCoach website. There are hundreds of workouts to gives it additional dynamism and means that it is not limited to simply running or cardiovascular exercises. Many of the plans incorporate both fitness and strength, meaning that the watch can be worn both in the gym or on the road. With the MiCoach assistance, it means that the designed workouts are well rounded and concentrate on a complete experience. Downloading these customised plans is also simple as it can be connected directly to a wifi network and as such these plans can be downloaded directly from the website. This means that synchronisations can be done without the need to connect to computers or smartphones. This is not the case when adding music and must be carried out with a simple drag and drop format.

outs is also impressive, with the GPS combined with the heart rate monitor allowing for some very intuitive analysis. It is also possible to record results over time and even compare your results against athletes or peers. This is an interesting idea and allows for a real drive to achieve your goals. The relatively large screen also allows for decent analysis on the go, with graphs and figures being fully viewable. So far so good, but the watch does have some flaws. The biggest gripe that I have is the battery life combined with the need for a specialised charging unit.

The battery life is not sufficient for every day use and far too frequently I would turn the watch on, only to find that the battery had become totally depleted and could therefore not be used. This is an area of wearable technologies where battery life and ease of charging cannot really work in tandem as a prerequisite of a sports watch like this is that it is sweat proof meaning The music player itself is good that a specialised charging unit and through hours of use I am must be used. Often I would find yet to find any connection is- that if I ran or cycled to work, I sues between the watch and the would then not be able to charge headphones. With many blue- the watch unless I carried the tooth connections this is not al- charger with me. Given that the ways the case and many can charger is relatively small, this unpair or have brief breakages wasn’t too much of an issue, but on a few occasions I would forin the connection. The data recording during work- get the charger, meaning that the watch could not be used on


Adidas Smart Run

a return journey. It claims to have a 4-8 hour battery life, but in reality with all of the features turned on this is closer to 2 hours, which does seem like something that could be improved in future iterations. The size, despite not being overly troublesome, does cause a few issues. When running or cycling, it works perfectly, as it may be larger than a regular watch, but isn’t overly heavy. It allows the screen to be bigger which also means that stats can be easily viewed whilst on the go. When incorporating the strength elements of many of the workouts though, this does become an issue because it is restrictive on wrist movements, something that is vital in using free weights and many machines. This means that in order to incorporate some of the workouts that you can download from the MiCoach website, the watch needs to be removed. The final issue that I have is the time it takes to begin recording the data during a workout. When using the inbuilt GPS and Heartrate monitor, I find that the greatest insights come from the collaboration of both. When using the watch though, I often found that to have both working it could take up to 3 minutes to initialise. People who have a

keen interest in fitness do not want to wait for a long time to initialise before starting their workout and often I would find the only way to speed up the process was through turning off the GPS. It was either this or having recordings that started once my heart rate had already increased and I had run for 2 or 3 minutes. Overall, this watch is innovative, impressive and certainly shows a jump forward in terms of wearable technologies in sports. The inclusion of aspects like the music player and the customisable coaching means that there is nothing else around that is quite at the same level. At the same t i m e though, there are elements that can be worked on in the future, chief amongst them being the battery life. The fact that I found using the watch so useful and insightful only made it more frustrating when I would turn it on only to find it out of battery. This is both testament to how good the watch is when it is working b u t how the seco n d

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generation can improve on elements of this design. This is a watch that has thrown down the gauntlet and it will take something special to challenge it.


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Do You Have The Next Game Changing Technology?

Send It For Review reviews@sportsperformancetech.com


Jawbone UP

Review: Jawbone UP William Tubbs Organiser, Sports Analytics Innovation

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Jawbone UP

Having reviewed the major players in the wearables marketplace, with the Nike Fuelband and Fitbit Flex, taking a look at the Jawbone UP was the next on the list. We are currently seeing the move from the initial wearables to second generation versions. This is the same with the UP, which has recently launched the UP 24, a band which adds to the features that can already be found on the original band. Before looking at the second generation of these bands, it is

important to take a look at what the original models offer. What the UP has over its two main competitors is the aesthetic factor, with the band being both smaller and more stylish than the Nike Fuelband and Fitbit Flex. With a clasp-less design it also has a less harsh and utilitarian look, instead it could be worn as a regular bracelet. One of the issues that I had with the Fitbit Flex was that it had neither the minimalistic nature of UP or the all encompassing information of the Fuelband. That the UP has only one button to change between sleep tracking and regular tracking, means that


Jawbone UP

the design not only stays sleek and looking good, but also means that the size of the band is not dictated by displays. This means that it is not intrusive and can truly be worn 24/7. The recording is accurate and I especially like the ease with which you can turn from regular tracking to sleep tracking. I found with the flex, that although not difficult, it was not as easy to switch between the two states. The tracking, complete with goals and typical tracking figures for others similar to you, creates a genuine drive to hit and exceed targets. This is something that the others have within the system, but it is not as accessible or highlighted as with the UP interface.

with the UP. The app has recently been re-imagined and the new interface is impressive, easily navigated and well designed. With goals clearly shown and results easily analysed, it makes the recording and analysing of activities easy. The one downside to the UP is that, unlike both the Flex and Fuelband, it needs to be manually connected to the phone through the headphone port to sync. This is one of the only real downsides to the band and is not something that is necessarily a huge negative factor.

The integration with the smartphone app is also something that is becoming increasingly important with wearable technologies and is something that the team The battery life for the UP is at Jawbone have looked at also comparable with both

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Jawbone UP

the issues with this band, but I will look at that in an upcoming issue. As the first generation of wearables, the UP brings a more day to day trackability than the offerings from Nike and Fitbit, but at the same time is certainly less fitness focussed. However, given the focus of the product, I do not necessarily think Saying this though, unlike this is a bad thing. it’s competitors, it feels like the UP is designed with more care taken on the looks and true wearability on a day to day basis. With this in mind, I think that losing aspects such as bluetooth synchronisation and more indicators on the band are worth the sacrifice. Out of the three bands, the UP is certainly the easiest to wear 24/7. the Fuelband and the Flex, with a full charge allowing the band to function for around 10 days. This is an adequate amount of time and with each sync with the app, there is also a charge indicator. Although it would be more useful to have this as an inbuilt function on the band itself.

Overall the Jawbone UP is easy to use and is something that can be worn at all times. The UP 24 has negated some of


Monster iSport

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Review: Monster iSport Headphones Simon Barton Assistant Editor


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Monster iSport

the pairing between the headphones and device is fantastic. I paired it with my PC, phone, iPad and smart watch, having no drop in Bluetooth connection or sound quality, I had no drops of the bluetooth connection and the Traditional headphones are of- sound was alten used, but the risk of this is ways crisp. right that they are not necessarily de- The signed to take the strain of many e a r p h o n e has sports. This could be from po- also tential damage to connections u s e f u l through the movements whilst f u n c t i o n connected to a headphone jack b u t t o n s or even that they could begin to a l l o w i n g to smell after excessive sweating you on during a workout. The hygiene turn issues too are obvious, with put- and off, ting in-ear headphones in dur- skip tracks ing periods of intensive exercise and adcreating a haven for bacteria just volume withand discomfort. Monster have looked to solve out having touch this issue with the iSport Free- to the source dom headphones, the first onear headphones designed for device. This is incredibly use in high intensity workouts. useful durThe headphones themselves ing trainlook like they are designed for ing as with sport, with a neon band running many oththrough the centre, allowing for er headadditional high visibility. They p h o n e s , are well designed and unlike these funcmany sports headphones, they tions are look good enough to be used only available recreationally. on wire, which In terms of usability the head- is often difficult to phones offer simple and ex- adjust without distensive functions. For instance, rupting running rhythm. There have been several headphones released in the past that have catered to the sports market. They have largely focussed on keeping the headphones on during intense exercise through stabilisation i.e. hooks over the ears to make sure they do not fall off.


Monster iSport

When I initially received the headphones I was worried that they would shift during running due to the over ear design. This was not the case however, instead they stay in place with minimal shifting during movement. The only slight downside to this is that this is achieved with additional pressure on the ears, but having worn these for hours at a time, this only causes a slight soreness of the cartilage at the top of the ears, which quickly resides. Another key element of these headphones is their sweat proof and anti-bacterial nature. Here again, the headphones excel. Having done a relatively high intensity workout, I simply wiped down the headphones and they were fine for regular use. Finally, the sound quality. At ÂŁ230/$300 I hoped that they would go beyond simply being sports headphones and also offer good enough quality to merit being every day headphones. In this respect, I was not disappointed as they offer good low, medium and high levels, with deep bass and accurate treble. I would recommend these to anybody who has a seri-

ous interest in both fitness and sound quality. They offer the best comfort and quality available for a sports specific headphone at the moment and this combined with the very impressive bluetooth connectivity make them the current market leader in sports headphones.

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Base Layers

Review: Base Layers George Hill Managing Editor


Base Layers

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Icebreaker, Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip The Icebreaker Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip is one of the latest offerings from Icebreaker, which many have claimed to be the ‘world’s best base layer’. The base layer itself is both lightweight and comfortable and with the half zip allows for very impressive temperature regulation. Traditionally used for more low intensity outdoor pursuits, this base layer is equally effective in winter training however. I found that this base layer was impressive at temperature regulation and breathability of all of the base layers in this section, this was certainly the most comfortable to wear for extended periods at mid to low intensity activity. There were only one or two instances where I felt noticeably sweaty in it despite using it extensively and for a variety of activities. Even when it was sweaty, the odourless elements of the shirt meant that it was not unpleasant to continue wearing if necessary. Overall, I was very impressed with this base layer and it certainly deserves it’s label as the World’s best, due to its all round performance.


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Base Layers

Nike Pro Combat Hyperwarm Dri-FIT Max Shield The Pro Combat Hyperwarm was definitely had the best insulation of all of the base layers tested. It offered almost unparalleled heat retention in this respect and of all of the base layers was the most effective when used as a stand alone training shirt in mild conditions. The element that I think let it down was the level of breathability. Despite the venting it would become very hot and was certainly the product that produced the most sweat during intense exercise. This combined with the water resistant arms meant that in order to effectively use it in wet conditions you had to have a hooded vest, meaning that the breathability became even more of an issue. Overall, I think this product has definite positives and had the best performance as a stand alone top. But as it is often needed to be used in conjunction with other colder weather training equipment (such as creating additional layers) during intense workouts, it became uncomfortably sweaty. This is testament to the insulation that this top provides, but also a drawback when used in conditions requiring additional equipment.


Base Layers

Helly Hansen - Warm Ice Crew Helly Hansen are one of the most recognised brands in terms of base layers and thermal clothing and they have a larger selection and variety of base layers as a result. The Oasis Ice Crew is both breathable yet warm, meaning that it is ideal for winter training. The combination of merino outer and LIFA fibre inner makes this both dry and effectively insulated. This meant that when I was training, despite pushing myself and exerting myself, there was never a time when I felt either too cold or excessively hot. The fit is also impressive with the flat lock stitching meaning that there was no chaffing and I felt comfortable working through a variety of movements. I found that this was the best base layer in terms of breathability and keeping you sweat free. For instance I used this for two relatively extensive training sessions within 4 hours and this was totally dry and non-smelly from simply being hung up for an hour between sessions. The relatively low neckline also meant that this was most convenient for wearing underneath uniforms and other kits. This was particularly useful when playing team sports in cold conditions where you are expected to wear the same kit as your team mates. I wore this under cycling jerseys effectively, meaning that it was useful to wear underneath even a tight fitting shirt. Overall, this was an impressive base layer that allowed for dynamic and varied use, the best of all those reviewed for use across diverse sporting activities.

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2014

What Are We Expecting in 2014? George Hill Managing Editor


2014

M-Body and Athos. With both of these products the technology is built into the apparel itself meaning that just from wearing shorts and t-shirts, BPM, muscle movements and effectiveness of movement can be monitored and logged. That this can also be done in real time, allowing coaches to assess and monitor on the spot, could see a brand new way to monitor and preAn area that is undeniably in- vent injuries. creasing the awareness of this We also believe that the widis wearable technologies. We er use of wearable technolare seeing with the buzz around ogies in society, even those this new technology area bring- not designed purely for ing more major players moving sports, will have a mainto the area. CES 2014 show- jor effect on how peocased this with a large portion ple monitor themselves. of the media coverage revolving With programmable around new wearable technol- wearable technoloogies. This was also shown at gies and increasthe wearable technology con- ing numbers of ference in Munich in January apps available for 2014, where one of the winners these technolof the Innovation World Cup was ogies (devices M-Body, a new sports technolo- like the Pebble smart watch, gy company. We are likely to see this trend Google Glass continue and we are seeing the and Samsecond generations of many sung Galof the popular wearable track- axy Gear) ing devices hitting the markets. we are From the Fitbit Force, Nike Fuel- s e e i n g band SE and Jawbone UP 24, m o r e the devices are evolving and as use for the diversity and usage increas- a varies, so the products evolve fur- ety of sportther. i n g At the Wearable Technology e n Conference, one of the most im- d e a v pressive devices were the truly ours. wearable technologies such as 2013 saw the understanding and acceptance of sports technologies amongst a larger user base than ever before, with access to previously elite technology becoming more available to smaller teams and even individuals. 2014 is likely to see this trend continue and adoption rates are likely to increase along with an increased understanding of the products involved.

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2014

Alongside this we are seeing HUD displays becoming more popular in sports with many of the applications on the Google Glass now focussing on cyclists and running. The same is true for the Recon Jet and 4iii, both of which offer the HUD to cyclists, giving them real time information as they are cycling. With 2014 seeing the public release of the much publicised Google glass, this kind of technology is likely to become more accepted by society as a whole. This will also coincide with wearable technologies becoming less utilitarian and functional in looks and instead becoming more fashion conscious. Key players have identified this as the one of the most important aspects that companies need to concentrate on in the next 12 months. This kind of aesthetic work will not only benefit consumers, but also elite athletes. As these wearables become more popular, the ROI of research divisions will improve thus giving more opportunity for experimentation for all levels of use.

on the subject, such as Hugo Lloris at Tottenham and the NFL compensation lawsuit. T h i s will likely see teams invest in technology designed to identify and prevent potential injuries of this nature. We are seeing some work in this area already with the Mamori mouthguard receiving critical acclaim and several companies looking at potential technologies to track these injuries. The use of truly wearable technologies similar to those provided by M-Body and Athos that track muscle movements will also help with soft tissue injury prevention. With coaches having the ability to monitor muscle load and analyse movements, this will give them a distinct advantage in this area.

We are also likely to see an increased use of recovery technologies. At the forefront of this will be the cryotherapy, the idea that athletes recovery is sped up through a freezing process. Used extensively in the Irish rug2014 is also likely to see an in- by union team in the past few crease in the use of technology years, we are likely to see this for both recovery and injury pre- trend become far more mainstream in 2014, especially with vention. 2013 saw an increase in aware- international tournaments ocness for injuries, especially con- curring such as the World Cup in cussions. There have been sev- Brazil and the Rugby World Cup eral highly publicised debates taking place in the UK in 2015.


2014

With the use of analytics in sports also becoming more prevalent, we are likely to see more and more teams having the capabilities to use them. With the increasing number of competitors in the market, the pricing for much of the technology and expertise is likely to decrease creating the possibility for more jobs in the area and thus an increase in the numbers of data scientists working within sports clubs. The advantages that many clubs have seen from this at the top end of sports means that this effect will permeate through to different areas. With this kind of spread and the use of technically minded professionals throughout sports, we are likely to see movements in the same way that coaches and players are transferred between clubs. Although this is something that may not become a huge factor in 2014, we predict that this will begin in earnest before growing in the future. At a recent sports analytics conference it was pointed out that the annual wages for one player could fund a team of data analysts and data scientists. 2014 may be the year that this makes its way to the forefront of franchise thinking, improving back room technical teams rather than adding players. Especially in sports such as football in Europe, this kind of improvement will be vital as the power of money, despite staying high, will

lessen with the financial fair play rules coming into effect. Therefore the ways in which UEFA police this will have a knock-on effect on the sports analytics departments across several elite teams. If they can’t spend millions on a new player they will need to find ways to get the best out of the players they already have. In Conclusion, 2014 is likely to see an increased use of technology and new innovations within sports. The line between success and failure is becoming thinner and this will not change in 2014, due to this pressure to succeed. Furthermore, the commercial boost that comes with the adoption of many of these technologies in the consumer space, will mean that experimentation will become easier and many new adopters will emerge, for new and existing sports technologies.

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Sports Performance & Technology, Issue 5  

Sports Performance & Technology, Issue 5

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