A platform called Splunk analyzed 15 years of data to predict NFL plays
An invention called EliteForm helps athletes perfect their movements during training and games
A hand-held device named Skulpt measures the fat in an athlete's muscles
As athletes strive to set new records and engineers invent new technology, their worlds are intersecting more and more.
Right now the average football player relies on lifting weights, running agility drills and pushing heavy blocking sleds to get himself ready for game day.
It works well enough, but coaches and athletes looking for smarter ways to win are quickly embracing super-sophisticated technology on courts and playing fields.
Here are three ideas that show how technology is pushing sports in new directions.
1. Can a super computer coach football?
Some fans love to crunch game stats. But a football fan named Nate McKervey at a data analysis company called Splunk went further. He fed 15 years of NFL data into his company’s platform in hopes of predicting NFL plays during games.
The experiment got pretty good at guessing the next play, but will teams ever rely on computers to call plays on the field?
Someday … maybe. But not today.
2. Check my technique
EliteForm is a technology that tracks and analyzes an athlete’s movements while training and during games. Its maker, Skip Cronin, is a former college athlete with a background in sport science and business.
3. Do my muscles look fat?
A hand-held device called Skulpt offers an easy, inexpensive and quick way to improve training.
Pressing its 12 sensors against the skin creates a tiny electric current that measures the percentage of muscle fiber versus fat stored inside the muscle.
By checking it daily, athletes could make better decisions about which muscles to target during their workouts.
4. For fans far from home
Invented by a data scientist in California who wanted to feel closer to her beloved San Antonio Spurs, Fanvana offers a personalized, real-time social discovery experience. The app was named the best sports startup at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
5. Technology opens new doors for disabled athletes
But what about the future? Emerging technology is improving sports prosthetic options for disabled athletes. Dr. Roy A. Cooper is advancing the science of prosthetic limbs.
In Cooper’s lab, athletes wear body suits with motion sensors that are read by a computer. They perform drills that allow cameras to digitize their movements. That data is then used to design prostheses that will allow athletes with disabilities to complete the same actions. These kinds of prosthetic devices could eventually allow athletes with and without disabilities to compete together seamlessly in any sport – including football.