Connected wearable technology continues to weave its way into our lives with every passing month and the volume of data these devices create grows with every step we take. Analysts expect almost 23 million Apple Watches to be sold in 2015 alone. The possibilities for wearables are endless and it seems like every day we hear about new and unique ways technology and data is driving innovation. Sports have always been a statistical playground, from the post-game analyst breakdowns to fantasy sports predicated on measuring every yard gained by a specific player. So it’s unsurprising that wearables have now entered the sports arena.
The first three games of the NBA Finals have been nail biters, matching up two of the leagues best teams and biggest stars. And both the Warriors and Cavaliers have used connected wearables to help them on their championship journeys.
Until recently sports teams have relied on old-fashioned methods of measuring player fatigue, from watching game tape to getting direct player feedback. Neither has been real-time or all that accurate — after all, how many all star atheletes do you know that willingly ask to rest? But short sighted competitiveness can lead to longer term issues including injuries, which affect winning percentages and a team’s bottom line.
Enter connected wearables. Midway through the 2014-2015 NBA season, Steve Kerr, head coach of the Warriors, made a surprising move in sitting his starters and instead choosing to play his bench against the Denver Nuggets. Fan reaction was less than positive, but Steve Kerr was making a smart, strategic long term decision driven by data.
Coach Kerr joined an advancing analytics movement in the NBA and examined the data made available to him by his teams wearable technology. After a 6 game, 9 day road trip the data from wearables made by Catapult Sports, “found that [they] had multiple guys red-lining”, according to assistant general manager Kirk Lacob.
The Catapult Sports monitor is an advanced wearable that allows for deep biomechanics analysis about a player’s movement. The small device uses indoor GPS, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a magnetometer for direction, all while fitting into the lining of a compression shirt. A microprocessor categorizes the data and sends it to trainers on their mobile device of choice.
Coach Kerr was only in a position to make the call to sit his best players because of connectivity. For all the amazing data wearables can collect, the data they produce is only valuable when it can be easily accessed and analyzed. Wearables are just one part of a larger digital value chain that connects people, apps, and devices.
What’s your digital connectivity strategy?
Game 4 of the NBA Final is tonight at 6pm PT on ABC. Here’s hoping MVP Steph Curry and the Warriors have a strategy for connecting on more shots. Go Warriors!