Technologies Transforming Extreme Sports: Smartwatch
Smartwatches are some of the most common gadgets that sports lovers invest in. They are not just GPS and heart rate trackers – manufacturers bend over backwards to come up with tailored functionalities. FirstBeat, for instance, is a highly elaborate technology that handles advanced biometric calculations. Available on over 100 different devices, it allows the users to monitor a wide range of parameters. From checking real-time performance condition and lactate threshold to recovery time advisor and anaerobic training effect – it is the ultimate performance enhancer. FirstBeat measures VO2max (body’s capacity to utilize oxygen) and inputs the real-time data into refined algorithms. While monitoring athlete’s body is not unique to extreme sports, it must be highlighted that smartwatches nowadays are also adapted to adventurers. From increased waterproofing, better altitude measurement to air pressure monitoring… and features specific to different sports.
Technologies Transforming Extreme Sports: POV Cameras
Another way in which tech helps develop skills and technique is through video analysis. Whilst video analysis is not a novelty, traditionally, it has been undertaken quite statically; with a (large and heavy) camera mounted on a tripod with a small range of motion. However, in extreme sports which are characterised by rapid motion and longer distance, this approach does not allow for a precise analysis. That’s where POV cameras (such as GoPro) come in handy. In 2012, Olympic Gold Medalist in Giant Slalom, Lindsey Vonn, admitted in interviews that analysing her performance through the footage from her GoPro was a great part of her success: “I use it on my helmet so I can go back and visualize the course and compare it to what I see. It’s not a normal video the coaches do; it’s your personal point of view.” It’s their size and light weight that adapted POV cameras to be widely used as a performance tool. As pointed out by Wired, ‘Tiny details — a slightly different line, a subtle bend in the knee or twist of the body — can be the difference between winning and losing.’
Technologies Transforming Extreme Sports: Drones
POV cameras are not, however, the only modern way to collect video footage. The use of drones in extreme sports also became quite prominent in the last few years. Staaker is probably one of the most loved drones. It’s able to fly up to 80 km/h and its waterproof tracker communicates your location to the Staaker drone. Not only that – Staaker predicts your moves thanks to a built-in AI. Therefore, it allows for smooth filming and further video analysis of one’s technique (and collecting great memories!).
Technologies Transforming Extreme Sports: Helmets
Being one of the most essential parts of extreme sports gear, helmets are constantly improved and enhanced. Smart helmets were introduced a while ago now and they most often allow athletes to communicate safely whilst wearing them. POC Auric Cut Communication, for instance, features an integrated communication headset, including speakers and mic, which allow for improved smartphone or two-way communication. However, including augmented reality in helmets is a relatively new trend. LiveMap is creating a prototype helmet that ‘uses augmented reality for navigation; street names, speed, and turn-by-turn directions are displayed directly over the world around you, negating the need to shift focus from the road’ (DigitalTrends). This is likely to be a ground-breaking technology – LiveMap is to release their helmets in 2019. It is also worth mentioning custom-made helmets – while they generally don’t have as many groundbreaking features, their forte lies in the perfect fit and the utmost safety they provide.