IoT in sports
In the modern reality of the exponential growth of technological advancements, businesses are scrambling to get back into the game. In the light of pandemics, organizations turn out to be in dire need to bridge the gap between physical reality and the digital world. The fitness and sports industry is not an exception. The isolated environment during the pandemic caused the increased demand for digital workout solutions.
People have become more conscious and focused on their wellbeing and mental and physical healthcare, which stimulates fitness and smart market growth offering users more and more sophisticated digitized sports products. Like many other industries in the 21st century, the fitness industry is getting smarter by introducing a variety of IoT solutions. And for those fitness clubs being on edge, a good practice will be to consider ways to deliver a more personal experience and tech-driven workout options to lure back their customers.
New consumer demands in the fitness industries
People’s everyday routines start with the activities backed by technologies at hand. With a smartwatch, you can track your heartbeat or count the distance of your running path. Daily, we apply fitness trackers and smart devices that collect data and provide us with advanced and personalized experiences without even realizing how they impact our limitless expectations for the future. For instance, Apple Watch owners can now enjoy personalized home workout programs anytime and anywhere with immersive and highly personalized experiences. Sounds fantastic.
Therefore, fitness clubs have to cope with the challenges affected by the shifting demands of the customers. 78% of consumers state that they almost always prefer in-person workouts; however, according to the ClubIntel report, 65% of surveyed members said digital solutions significantly determine their decision to return to their fitness club.
Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of a hybrid model of digital and real-life services in sport and fitness clubs as well as the growth of the digital fitness market volume that is projected to reach $44,594.15m by 2025.
Fitness owners cannot rely on what worked in the past; they have to learn to bundle different options delivered via a variety of ways: workout customization, immersive training, optimization of gym equipment, etc. All these can be achieved by keeping up with IoT trends. Let’s shed light on how the internet of things can shape the future of fitness and help build resilience in your industry.
How is IoT helpful in sports and fitness?
In ten years, the total number of worldwide installed smart devices will increase three times more in 2025 compared to 2019 and is predicted to amount to $75,44 billion.
Smart sensors and shareable tracking data empower fitness entrepreneurs with the potential to incentivize consumer interest and engagement in a healthy lifestyle. It can help them yield positive returns on investment through profitability gains.
Gathering data with sensors and wearable or built-in devices, fitness owners allow for better customer interaction with services and products, enabling personalized approaches, reward programs, time and effort optimization, etc. From the perspective of a business owner, modernized equipment is a prerequisite to ensure better customer experience and retention.
In the era of millennials and Gen Z who are the fastest-growing generations among smart wearable users, fitness owners should adopt an innovative and tech-driven approach to fostering workout customization and improving gym equipment maintenance. For instance, each workout gear can be equipped with an IoT sensor that will help estimate equipment state and transmit the information into the database and notify the managers of the wear and tear or when there is the need for cleaning.
Being versatile in its use case possibilities, smart fitness solutions can be utilized in a number of ways. Let’s outline the main challenges of fitness clubs to see the value Internet of Things can bring to your business.
- Challenge: Occupied equipment and long waiting time.
Solution: Optimization of equipment usage and resources. Placing presence sensors on every machine makes it easy to see what equipment is the most popular. Moreover, whenever clients visit the gym, they can get notifications of the facilities’ availability on their apps.
- Challenge: Poor motivation for a healthier lifestyle.
Solution: Connected training equipment and gear enable consumers to track their performance and enhance their fitness goals.
- Challenge: Overcrowded gyms undermine training with friends.
Solution: Connect people with immersive training and tech-driven group workouts.
- Challenge: Non-personalization.
Solution: Customization of each customer’s needs through wearable tracking devices, analytics software, and database.
- Challenge: Bad air quality.
Solution: Smart building technology enabling indoor air quality monitoring of carbon dioxide, monoxide, and other airborne dust.
IoT fitness industry trends in 2022
To tailor their services for their customers, gyms can utilize data collected from smart devices (smartwatches, health and fitness trackers, clothing with in-built sensors), measuring sleep cycles, eating habits, physical load, heart rate, etc. For example, Polar smart coaching wearables optimize efforts and personalize training guidance both in fitness and sport. Measurement sensors help test running and cycling performance, assess fitness level, calories burned, monitor training load, tailor training plans, offer personal functional threshold power, and much more. By harnessing these smart devices, customers can even estimate the number of carbs they need to consume during the training.
Smart exercise machinery is another cutting-edge solution for delivering maximum personalized experiences for customers. Pendex is a good example of a new training modality introducing twelve smart training machines that offer tailor-made programs, precise exercises, natural body motions, and real-time reports to monitor progress. Equipped with special motion and strength sensors, gym visitors get individual training programs based on their specific characteristics, physical conditions, age, etc. Being a substitution to individual coaches, Pendex equipment consolidates data on measurements, integrating it into a single network where the outcomes are demonstrated on the touchscreen.
Whether or not you are at the gym, you can exercise effectively at home with other users and benefit from immersive training. This experience is enabled by the synergy between health and fitness IoT devices and immersive VR/AR. Through VR, a user is involved in a computer-generated simulated environment where the movements are captured by sensors that transfer the obtained data to head-mounted displays. That way, members of the immersive training can track their progress in real-time, keep track of heart rates, etc. Trainers can conduct their activities with clients remotely, applying smart fitness devices with VR technology.
Smart mirrors are another offbeat, smart, cutting-edge solution that bridges the gap between the gyms and the home, enabling a personalized and engaging experience. For example, Tempo Studio (that is not technically a mirror) equipped with a motion-sensor camera and infrared light, delivers 3D vision that follows the user’s form and postures and corrects them correspondingly.
With custom recommendations and progress tracking, users are aware of their optimal weight load and can adjust their training plans. A more accessible solution by Tempo is Tempo Move, a novelty offering real-time guidance, weight customization, individual training plans, and on-screen personal feedback via IPhone True Depth Sensors. Another breakthrough solution is The Mirror, applicable both for one-on-one personal workouts or group sessions with guidance from the instructor, putting a personal trainer in the person’s reflection. Controlled via the smartphone or tablet app, the IoT-powered mirror is geared with a front-facing camera and Apple Watch or Bluetooth to monitor heart rates, calories burned, session performance, and much more.
Connected Client Experience
Despite delivering workout customization, gyms need to provide extended instructions on how to enhance the experiences the clients have in the gym. By incorporating IoT-powered wearables and smart exercising machines capable of understanding the training patterns of their customers, gym owners can retrieve data to develop personalized physical and nutrition programs based on the metrics obtained from the sensors and devices.
These disruptive technologies enable gym owners to facilitate seamless user experience as well as more accurate recommendations and incentivized approaches toward healthier lifestyles.
Shareable wearable app tracking platforms
With the plenty of sensors built in the wearables and the facility machines, the need for comprehensive data collection in real-time becomes a critical juncture. In order to ensure seamless user-to-device interactions, the gadgets have to be connected to the software application allowing to accumulate data from various devices into one single control point. Data from monitoring devices and fitness trackers (treadmills, cardio stimulators, smartwatches, etc.) demonstrate various biometric data that could be integrated in the most accurate way. For this purpose, data is transmitted to the IoT cloud platform (middleware), enabling the management of data interactions between the users’ apps and remote devices.
Owners of sports organizations and gyms might be interested in such solutions since they not only facilitate remote multiple device coordination and control but deliver accurate real-time data. It will be a precious asset for those to whom precise metrics are crucial, e.g., in terms of rehabilitation or cardiovascular diseases.
With a customized IoT platform fueled by data, you can streamline fitness processes and optimize your entire value chain. At Euristiq, we developed a cross-functional IoT platform for the American hardware manufacturer specializing in sensor-based technology for sports industries. The platform allows handling multiple devices with advanced analytics and integration capabilities.
Advanced smart sensors
IoT-enabled sensors can be applied across a variety of use cases related to fitness and sport in general. Besides wearable smart devices, there are clothing and footwear sensors, or sensors embedded in sports equipment such as balls, rackets, jump ropes, yoga mats, or even implantable sensors. The use cases go far beyond just tracking of health parameters to enhance performance rates of users in gyms or sportsmen; smart sensors can be implemented for gym equipment maintenance, golf stroke optimization, enrichment of skydiving experiences, or tracking a ball or a racket.
Smart fitness applications
Let’s see some examples of how the internet of things can harness fitness and sports lifestyles.
1. Smart Jumping Rope: Tangram
Tangram Factory has introduced an IoT-powered jumping rope enabling automatic recording and analyzing workout data. Via synchronizing to a smartphone, a user can set up workout personalized plans, view history, compete with friends to gain achievements.
As the #1 most downloaded health and fitness app across 30 countries, SmartGym is a brilliant companion for sportspeople allowing them to automate and optimize workouts by integrating IoT devices (smartwatches) with traditional gym equipment. With the app, a user is able to create personalized workout routines, customize specifics of each exercise, set up appropriate weight and resting timer. To achieve better results, an app provides users with real-time feedback, history view, and progress tracking.
3. Smart Skydiving Altimeters
Professional jumpers can now enjoy more advanced capabilities providing them with an enhanced experience of using the smart altimeters. Skydiving IoT-enabled app allows sky lovers to configure their own altitudes during the jump by integrating audible digital altimeters (wearable devices) with the app that collects all the data about the jumps and presents it in history logbooks and comprehensive data analytics.
How can you use IoT for sports and smart gyms?
Among the abundance of opportunities the IoT technology offers, it’s easy to get lost. Businesses can start by adding IoT technology to their existing devices or services to improve the user experience. A thorough account of what IoT technologies can do for fitness wearables, equipment, sports gear, stadiums, and sporting venues, is described in this article by our CEO, Ivan Muts.
Here we will cover how you can implement IoT into your sport and fitness business and what first steps you should take.
Data collecting and advanced analytics
Data aggregating and its further analysis is a staple of the Internet of Things. Sensors collect big masses of data, which is most often stored in the cloud and then managed. Depending on the purpose, the data can be used to make better operational decisions, detect equipment malfunctions, give training instructions for users, optimize the exercising process, or track user progress.
Businesses can start with collecting data and analyzing it to make more informed decisions and maximize revenue.
Connect devices, connect experiences
Connectivity is another integral part of IoT technology. By connecting your devices to the internet or creating a network of connected devices, you can reap multiple benefits. For instance, connected sports devices can help athletes achieve better performance, and sports fields with interconnected cameras that offer 360-degree views revolutionize the fan experience.
You can benefit from the connectivity of your physical devices to the internet in multiple ways but each case is different. Start with consulting your tech partner on what could work with your business.
Sports devices from fitness bands to heart-rate trackers have built-in chips that offer real-time tracking. Depending on the purpose of the device, it can track the athlete’s performance and/or monitor health parameters (heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption), and fitness levels (steps, calories burnt, etc.). Such devices can not only offer a self-coached way of training but detect critical conditions and save lives.
If you are looking to implement real-time tracking for your fitness devices, request a consultation from software developers with relevant experience.
Customization & personalized experience
A person using wearables and smart training equipment can have their workout routine optimized based on the obtained data. Smart devices track the number of calories consumed, the intensity of training, sleep patterns, and based on these insights the AI or the instructors can suggest the nutrition plan or changes in the workout, thus offering a personalized experience. Gyms can analyze the data from their equipment and customize their workouts too.
To offer a personalized approach, collect and analyze the data of your sports devices. Then use those insights to figure out what is likely to improve your customers’ experience and what IoT service you can offer.
IoT sensors, for instance, attached to gym equipment, can detect malfunctions or collect data on how often the workout gear is used. This information can help with predictive maintenance. Keeping the equipment in excellent working condition raises customers’ satisfaction levels.
Similar remote maintenance can be applied to other sports devices, for example, fitness bands, heart rate monitors, IoT bikes, or treadmills. They receive over-the-air software and firmware updates to continue functioning properly in the same way as smartphones. This feature helps fix bugs and keep up with customer expectations.
When starting the development of your IoT project, discuss the option of project support after release with your development team.
The shift in the consumer demands in sport and fitness industries creates new opportunities for businesses. Leveraging IoT technologies they are able to offer more personalized experiences for their customers and increase their revenues. Among the abundance of IoT possibilities – data collecting, connectivity, real-time tracking, remote maintenance, – choose the ones that are easy to implement and will yield the most benefits. Consult a reliable tech partner to help you map out and develop your IoT project.