Future TechYeah, your fitbit is pretty sweet—for 2014. Two decades from now, amateur athletes will have a whole new selection of toys to use while training.
MONITORING: THE EYES
These high-tech goggles (Tobii Glasses) enable researchers to analyze what the athlete is looking at and from where he is receiving visual information. In addition to an outward-facing camera, which records what he is seeing, a secondary infrared camera mounted inside the goggles reflects off a tiny mirror to measure eye dilation and movement. Footage from both cameras are synced, providing researchers with real-time vision tracking using a small red dot on the screen to indicate exactly where the athlete is looking.
In the case of an elite motocross racer, for instance, he’d likely exhibit a confident, steady gaze looking way ahead down the track and through the corners. Information gathered from tracking and studying the vision techniques of elite athletes will likely trickle down to help amateurs learn from the pros.
We’re getting into some serious Dick Tracy stuff here. This wrist-based computer incorporates everything from a mobile phone to high-def video playback and analysis, enabling coaches to provide near real-time feedback to their athletes.
For example, a snowboarder practices his slopestyle run while his coach records highspeed video of each jump. While the athlete rides the chairlift back to the top, the coach can wirelessly send video clips plus feedback directly to the snowboarder’s watch. This saves lots of time and, more importantly, delivers coaching advice almost instantly, when the run is still fresh in the athlete’s mind.
MONITORING: THE BRAIN
This contraption may look like a robotic spider or that crazy monster from Aliens that sucks people’s faces— but it’s actually an EEG monitor. EEG is short for electroencephalography, which measures voltage fluctuations from neuron flow within the brain. Essentially it provides researchers with a real-time image of the athlete’s brain activity during different situations, from a meditative state to, say, the moment when a snowboarder is preparing to drop a huge line in the Alaskan backcountry.
Researchers hope this brain-wave analysis will help them figure out how athletes reach their “flow state” and what it looks like through EEG. Also, by downloading this real-time EEG imagery to a tablet or device, it can be used as a neurofeedback loop to teach an athlete how to more quickly get into a meditative, Zenlike state so he can better handle the stress of competition or extreme situations. Beyond that, researchers say this EEG data may be able to provide coaches with early indicators for talent identification, determining if a young athlete has the brain ability to perform at an elite level and how much training it would take to get them there.
R/C CAM: Underwater radio control camera
By now you’ve probably seen plenty of R/C helicopter camera drones. While they are ubiquitous and still very useful, new types of camera drones are being created to bring coaches and viewers never-before-seen angles. For instance, Red Bull researchers are working with biomimicry to create a cameraequipped R/C submarine that swims like a fish, to follow a surfer from below as he rides across the surface of a wave.
Besides creating cutting-edge action sports cinematography, these new camera angles will give surfers, coaches, and board designers new perspectives and insight on things such as how various surfboard fin setups—say, thrusters vs. quads—work in different wave conditions. Design lessons learned will eventually filter down to improved fins and boards for average surfers.
CENTRCAM: 360° Video
Honestly, this thing makes a GoPro look antiquated. Instead of the GoPro’s 170-degree field of view, the hockey-pucksized CentrCam records a full 360-degree view of the action. It can be easily mounted on a helmet, surfboard, or rally car—you name it—and then used to record all of the action.
But the real magic happens when, during playback, you’re able to pan around inside the video almost as if you’re moving back through time. Imagine how the CentrCam could be used to help a rally racer—coaches could easily determine how closely other cars are passing or being passed and, in the event of a crash, the exact cause of the wreck could more quickly be determined.