Cybernetics has reformed the relationship between man and machine. It has allowed us outperform human ability and has given the push to become more efficient and sustainable. The simplest of things like the new Nike Flyknit running shoe, or the personal tracking device in the Apple Watch are some examples showing how digital technology has changed our existence.
On the theme of sports and technology, cybernetics has revolutionised wearable technology in the sporting industry. ‘Sporting technologies are man-made means (methods), developed to reach human interests or goals in or relating to a particular sport. Technology in sports is a technical means by which athletes attempt to improve their training and competitive surroundings in order to enhance their overall athletic performance.’
Wearable technology is an example of our cyber culture, the incorporation and dependence that is and will be placed on cybernetics and digital technologies. We can see already that wearable technology is vastly improving and helping the performance and training of athletes, and as a result it is highly doubtful that we will result back to a time where technology and sport did not meet.
The incorporation of wearable technology has attracted the term ‘cyborg’, a term that describes a person physical ability extended beyond normal human limitations as a result of mechanical elements adjusted into the body. The incorporation of wearable technology in sport raises anxieties. Arguments investigate whether using and allowing wearable technology can cross the line between artificial enhancements and what is ‘socially acceptable’.
Firstly, we must understand what wearable technology is, and its application in sports in order to assess its validity in sport.
Where and why do we draw the line between artificial enhancements?
Wearable technology must not be narrowed down to only digital and technological functioning systems; rather, the concept of wearable technology acknowledges ‘smart textiles’. The application of smart textiles sees the fusion between certain fibres and materials to create a technology that allows for better aerodynamics, body circulation etc.
An example of this is ClimaCool by Adidas, an integrated system of technologies that work together to regulate the body temperature. “ClimaCool apparel activity conducts heat and sweat away from the body through a combination of heat and moisture-dissipating materials, ventilation channels and three-dimensional fabrics that allow air to circular close to the skin”. ClimaCool has been integrated into all athletic wear created by Adidas to help regulate body temperature. This is one evident example of wearable technology; it is changing the function of standard athletic clothing in order to adhere to an advancing society.
To check out more smart textiles check out this website: https://www.theteamfactory.com/blog/2014/05/29/uniform-fabric-technologies/
As fantasy sport is on the rise, wearable technology is being held accountable for the collection of personal player data. Known as player tracking devices, these wearable technologies have the ability to record and analyse player performance. The data collected by these wearable devices transmits data to the cloud and is then reviewed by analysts. Exactly what devices used, and whether they gather their information is still a grey area, which calls for further investigation!
But player-tracking devices are not only used for generating statistics.
In the NRL players use GPSports, which identifies changes in each athlete’s relative training load. The benefits of such device allows coaches to review data from athlete’s training history. The device is general worn between the shoulder blades of the athlete, and has proven to efficiently track heart rates, monitor fatigue, track movements etc.
Companies are now pushing to take GPS tracking to another level, making it possible to track players in indoors and under stadium roofs with the introduction of the new CSIRO indoor tracking system.
CSIRO is wireless ad-hoc for position technology, measuring player performance under the roof of Docklands Stadium. The device, ClearSkyis produced by the Victorian company Catapult Sports that supplies GPS tracking devices for elite sports, one being NRL.
Wearable technology will only continue to expand in products. Chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association Shawn DuBravac says, “If we were to go show up at a marathon somewhere, my bet would be that everybody in that first corral has a wearable on… they consider that as important as, if not more important than other things they might have on.”
Wearable technology is changing the game, from a performance perspective, athletes use this data to maximise performance. In the medical areas, these devices are tracking player health and injury. They are allowing medical staff to identify which parts of the body are most injured, and are helping to target treatment for effective treatment.
Across all levels of sport, wearable technology is continuing to be a prominent feature. Wearable technology offers businesses the opportunity to generate data analytics, which heavily influence the fantasy sports industry, they are creating the opportunities for big brands to sponsor such technology and reinvent pre-existing products and lastly it has revolutionised the medical side of sports.