Wearable Tech Meets Athletics With These 6 Futuristic Sport Outfits
As I’ve touched on before, wearable technology is bringing new and astounding changes to the world of sports. Wearable tech can improve player safety, team visibility, call efficiency and so much more. In other words, it’s a game changer — literally.
Some wearable technology is already used by athletes, but when it comes to imagining what the future could hold, the sky’s the limit. Brilliant hypothetical designs can demonstrate the potential of wearable technology to improve sports like soccer, rugby and football. Some may even be useful for non-athletes as well.
The following concepts (by Bwin via CNET) imagine how athletes’ outfits will look and function in the future. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to seeing these innovations in action on fields, courts, and rinks across the globe someday.
1. Offside lights & watches
It can be difficult for everyone — including referees — to tell when athletes are out of bounds. With light-up offside indicators, flexible LED displays would flash on players’ outfits when they’ve crossed a boundary. This can minimize and even eliminate human error, or worse, cheating — the lights don’t lie.
GoalControl is one organization already focused on clarifying boundaries through wearable technology. In this case, the referee would have the wearable: a watch that displays real-time data based on camera footage so refs can make more accurate calls.
2. Player cameras
Speaking of footage, imagine getting a view of a game from your favorite athlete’s perspective. With wearable cameras like GoPros in use commercially, it’s feasible that similar devices could be embedded into athlete uniforms, assuming the rules would allow it.
Already, wearable technology like Google Glass has been used to record behind-the-scene or even on-the-scene footage at sports events by both reporters and athletes. In the future, POV footage could give viewers a unique perspective of the game, while giving sports organizations a brand new product to broadcast or sell.
3. Wearable ads & statistics
Advertising is a huge part of professional sports, as is evidenced by Super Bowl commercials, corporate sponsorships, on-site activations and more. Flexible LED displays could theoretically turn an athlete’s uniform into another screen for brand promotions.
LED ad outfits are unlikely to become the standard anytime soon, least of all in the United States. Though sports teams globally have long brandished the names of sponsors on their jerseys, it’s one of the only spaces the “big four” professional American leagues won’t advertise on.
Alternatively, LED textiles could display player statistics on their jerseys so fans can peek at the data without doing additional research.
4. LED visibility outfits
When the weather’s bad, it’s not just moisture that makes sporting events unpleasant: bad visibility can be physically dangerous for players and bothersome for fans. High-visibility textiles, which light up in bad weather, could remedy this issue.
Though some kinds of high-visibility gear already exists, even the brightest neons won’t be of much use at night in the rain. Apparel embedded with flexible LED technology would be the ideal solution, but only if it can be powered effectively without adding extra weight.
5. Built in generators
So how are the sports outfits of the future powered? Since clunky batteries would weigh down wearable electronics, the best solution may be battery-free: specifically, outfits could be charged with kinetic energy generated by the players’ movements.
There are a number of wearable electronics that are self-powering, some through body heat, others through body movement or even human blood. For athletes, running and jumping could someday be efficient enough to power at least some of their high-tech wearables.
6. Impact visualizers
Lastly, here’s one type of wearable that is already making waves in American football: the impact visualizer, which (in this design) changes colors when a player takes a hit. An outfit with this kind of tech built in could flash green, amber, or red to alert referees and doctors when a player needs medical attention or a break.
Impact sensors have already been embedded into helmets, mouth guards and chin straps to measure the force and duration of collisions players endure. The hope is that recognizing severe impacts right when they occur can help athletes get treated as soon as possible, minimize suffering and long-term side effects, and prevent further dangerous incidents.