Sports tech meets embedded, results in 11 cool devices

March 25, 2015

Sports tech meets embedded, results in 11 cool devices

Slide show -- There is no shortage of fitness gadgets on the market. Here are a few of our most recent favorites, including a hand gesture-powered ska...

Slide show

There is no shortage of fitness gadgets on the market. Here are a few of our most recent favorites, including a hand gesture-powered skateboard and fitness-monitoring shirt. Wearable technology is getting better and better.

1. Track run distance and speed with profileMyRun
Everyone is familiar with fitness apps that help runner track their distance and speed during workout, but what if an insert could help you improve your stride? Now it can. profileMyRun does just that. The technology was developed by Palo Alto Scientific and works to analyze foot strike patterns in real-time while running, to help runners improve four main areas on the spot: posture, cadence, foot strike and lean. The idea is that less people will get injured if their form is correct from the start. The insert features a rechargeable lithium polymer battery via USB. The app is free with the $139 insert purchase. Palo Alto Scientific also hopes to create a virtual community where runners can help one another with form and support. In this way it hopes to differentiate itself from the market. Image: profileMyRun sole insert and app interface (images courtesy of profileMyRun)

2. Athletes can identify risk of injury with Motus smart sleeve
Motus brings something new to the table: A smart sleeve – a wearable compression sleeve that monitors potential risks of injury during workouts and games. The smart sleeve uses a 3D motion sensor, six accelerometers and gyroscopes and Bluetooth technology to help coaches best train athletes. It looks at things like elbow torque, mechanical fatigue and arm speed to identify an athlete’s strengths, weaknesses, and major areas of stress, and uploads this data to an easy-to-use app via Bluetooth. Motus says this data can be used to tweak workouts that can help athletes avoid injuries. For pitchers, this could help prevent the need for Tommy John Surgery, but any athletes with a potential for an arm injury could benefit from the technology. The Motus smart sleeve has been under development for four years and is being endorsed by some big name athletes, including Andrew McCutchen, Eddie Lacy, Francesco Totti, and Rajon Rondo. For professional athletes, pre-professional athletes and sport enthusiasts, the sleeve is now available for pre-order. Image: Athlete using Motus smart sleeve (image courtesy of Motus)

3. Sony Smart Tennis Sensor gives players an advantage on the court
Sony is hoping to capture a chunk of the smart sport technology market with its newest toy – the Smart Tennis Sensor, a 8-gram device that records real-time shot visuals and metrics for pinpointing areas of improvement. The 31.3 cm wide sensor targets both professional and amateur tennis players and helps them analyze their performance through captured shots, such as ball impact spot, swing speed and swing types using real-time recordings. The device sits at the bottom of compatible racket models and can save up to 12,000 shots in its memory that can be uploaded via Bluetooth to the Android or iOS app. App users can also unite in the virtual community to share performance stats. For the big release, Sony has partnered with Wilson, Prince and Yonex. It is compatible only with certain rackets and is now available for purchase at $200 through the Wilson website. Image: Sony Smart Tennis Sensor (image courtesy of Sony)

4. Are you a Juggglow?
Whether you’re a novice juggler or a regular juggling extraordinaire, Embedded Systems claims its LED-based juggling system, Juggglow, will both enhance users’ juggling skills and bedazzle performance. Juggglow is a duo gadget that trains users how to juggle and allows them to control visual effects during playtime for an added “wow” factor during performances. Special RGB LED juggling balls collect data using 32-bit microcontrollers, accelerometers and gesture controls that is downloadable via Bluetooth to help jugglers improve their skills. The compatible app is optional, but also helps jugglers to recognize where they can improve, including monitoring timing, catching impulse and flying height. The app, which is free for Android and iOS users, is also packed with a community of healthy competitors. Users can compete for titles and virtual glory with over 100 games and challenges. Juggglow is still a concept, but the company is hoping to bring it to market soon. Backers can support the innovation at Indiegogo through early March. Image: Juggglow ball and app interface (image courtesy of Juggglow)

5. Riddel smart helmet helps identify concussions
With many people questioning the safety of football, helmet manufacturer Riddell recently launched its SpeedFlex helmet, which aims to help coaches identify a player who may be suffering from a concussion. The SpeedFlex smart helmet features a polymer-film lining and flexible crown to help absorb some of the shock during hard blows. It also features a system of sensors, called Riddell’s InSite system, which alerts coaches via compatible app when a player has sustained a significantly mighty blow or an unusually high number of hits to the head. While the technology cannot diagnose concussions, it seeks to aid coaches in keeping track of players’ conditions while on the field. Coaches are supposed to monitor a player’s risk of concussion on the field and Riddell hopes its helmet serves as an additional tool to help coaches do just that. The helmet launched last summer and is available for purchase on the company site for $399. Image: Riddell SpeedFlex Helmet (image courtesy of Riddell)

6. Perfect your billiard break shot with The BreakRAK
To compliment its Break Speed Radar, the Break Shot Company recently released its BreakRAK, an apparatus that promises to enhance billiard players’ ability to execute perfect break shots from anywhere on the table. The BreakRAK is a device that simulates the break shot, while simultaneously analyzing a player’s skill set, including bridge placement, grip, cue tip contact, stroke, follow through and tempo. The device does not require racking balls and can assess shot after shot continuously, without breaks. The contraption is meant to be used with the Break Speed Radar, a surprisingly accurate microwave Doppler radar that measures ball speed within one-tenth of a mph. Both devices are available on the company’s website. The Radar sells at $164 and the BreakRAK is available in standard and pro models priced at $294 and $334 respectively. Image: The BreakRAK in action (image courtesy of Sport Sensors Inc.)

7. Get fit, diet and monitor sleeping habits with FitBit One
There is no shortage of fitness apps that help users gain a handle on that New Years resolution that looms overhead. FitBit wanted to take its technology a step further with the One, a wearable that tracks movement, sleep and eating habits. The One is a wearable device that primarily tracks fitness and sleeping habits. It works during the day to track user fitness, including steps taken, miles traveled, stairs climbed and calories burned. At night, the tracker monitors quality of sleep and actual hours slept. This data is wirelessly uploaded via low energy Bluetooth to the app. The Windows and Mac app can track exercise habits, fuel healthy competition between online users and monitor diet by tracking and memorizing users’ typical meals. The device is a multi-purpose unit that keeps users in control of their progress through accurate data analysis and support. It is currently available for purchase on FitBit for $99.

8. Execute the perfect swing every time with SwingSmart
Like Sony’s Smart Tennis Sensor, the SwingSmart Sensor aims to help athletes improve their skillsets in the game of golf. The makers behind the technology claim the device is a long-term companion to improving your game, not another quick fix. The SwingSmart Sensor attaches to the underside of any golf club and is ready to go when you are. It works in combination with the SwingSmart iOS and Android app, which allows users to select which club they are using and collects the stats taken by the sensor. The app gives golfers information about their posture during a swing, tempo, angle of attack, speed and club shaft lean. Users can review this data and compare swing history to determine how to improve their game. If they have a coach, they can also send this info to their coach from the app. The sensor is available for purchase on the SmartSwing website for $250. Image: SwingSmart Sensor (image courtesy of SwingSmart)

9. Kinect-powered longboard uses hand motion for acceleration
Motorized longboards aren’t a novel creation, but Chaotic Moon’s Board of Awesomeness isn’t any old motorized skateboard. The monstrous gadget uses Microsoft’s Kinect and Windows 8 tablet to allow riders to accelerate up to 32 mph using only their hand. The board is powered by an 800 watt electric motor and 36 volt battery. The Kinect is attached to the nose of the board and the tablet sits nearby, angled towards the rider. The table shows a live feed of the Kinect’s visuals and functions as a virtual gas pedal. The Kinect constantly keeps track of the rider’s hand and when he moves it closer to the tablet, the board goes faster, or slows down when he pulls his hand back. The board does have a kill-switch for safety. While this won’t be going into mass production any time soon, it is a cool weekend project for you and your kids. Just watch out for potholes. Image: Chaotic Moon’s Board of Awesomeness (image courtesy of Engadget)

10. 94Fifty unveils first ever smart sensor basketball
If basketball is your sport, 94Fifty made its newest gadget for you. It’s called the Smart Sensor Basketball and it tracks your performance so you don’t have to. The Smart Sensor Basketball is a basketball that “sees” 360 degrees. In combination with the Android, iOS app, it tracks a player’s shooting arc, dribble, time release and wrist motion in real-time. The app adapts with the player, enhancing workout difficulty as the player develops and it saves performance history to analyze growth. Users can also purchase the Smart Net, which keeps track of shooting accuracy. The Smart Sensor Basketball is available now for $180. The net can be added for $20 and will ship in March. Image: 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball and app interface (image courtesy of 94Fifty)

11. Smart workout clothes
Rounding out our list of sport tech gadgets is one of the coolest wearables to enter the market. Meet Hexoskin – the wearable fitness-tracking shirt. Hexoskin is similar in function with FitBit, as it also tracks fitness and sleeping habits (with the app), but Hexoskin offers users the privilege of bringing one less things with them on a run. Just throw on your smart shirt, open your app and go. Hexoskin also differs from FitBit in that it focuses on monitoring heart rate and helping users alter counterproductive breathing habits during exercise. This can help users identify when they are overtraining and adopt breathing habits conducive to stress reduction. Heroskin offers short and long-sleeve shirts starting at $400, available on the company website. Image: Hexoskin Arctic Shirt (image courtesy of Hexoskin)

Cabe Atwell