In the constant push to boost athletic performance, technology is used to monitor and analyse many aspects of human performance. Sports scientists and coaches collect information about the way athletes move, the forces acting on their body, and changes in their biochemistry, heart rate, breathing rate and temperature.
This information is collected using complex equipment in a controlled laboratory environment. Measuring these parameters in real life environments, over an extended period has been limited by the cost and portability of the technology used. Advancements in the field of wearable technology have led to miniaturised, unobtrusive ways of measuring human performance outside the lab. Read on to discover some of the exciting new developments in wearable tech hitting the news recently.
A wristwatch that can measure biochemistry.
Engineers are developing a wristwatch that monitors body chemistry. A replaceable strip sensor in the back of the watch sits against the wearer’s skin. The sensor collects information about pH, glucose and lactate levels from the user’s sweat and relays the information to a smartwatch or smartphone. The designers anticipate future customisation of the strip to measure other markers of physical performance such as electrolytes and foresee future application of the device in monitoring performance over time in order to tailor training efforts and boost athletic performance.
T-shirts that can monitor heart rate, respiration and temperature.
MIT researchers have been testing a prototype t-shirt to monitor changes in temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and acceleration. With the goal of monitoring vital signs during activity without the requirement of fixing sensors to the body with tape or straps, the developers have designed a t-shirt with thirty sensors and an accelerometer woven into the fabric.
The t-shirt conforms to the skin like a compression t-shirt, allowing the sensors to make required contact with skin during physical activity. The shirt enables reliable data to be collected easily during physical activity without impeding the performance of the wearer. The technology could be expanded to incorporate other types of garments such as pants and include sensors to measure additional indicators of human performance such as blood oxygen levels.
Shoes that can analyse gait.
Gait analysis is studying the way people run or walk. It has long be used in the world of sports to refine running techniques with the aim of improving performance, reducing injuries and assisting in injury rehabilitation.
The most common method of gait analysis involves running or walking on a treadmill in a lab as camera based motion sensors and force plates capture information about how the foot strikes the ground and the length, speed and power of a stride.
Emerging wearable technology using artificial intelligence and a smart insole is allowing researchers to transform any shoe into a portable gait analysis laboratory! The SportSole technology uses embedded accelerometers, gyroscopes and force sensors to record data on the length, speed and power of a wearer’s stride, foot-ground clearance and pressure patterns. The sensors capture five hundred readings per second and AI analyses the data allowing for real time gait analysis of walking and running outside the lab.
Links to news articles and related published research:
Wristwatch to measure biochemistry.
T-shirts monitoring heart rate, respiration and temperature.
• MIT website:
• MIT Video:
SportSole shoes to analyse gait.
• Wearable Robotics System Lab Website: