Survival of the fIoTtest

Reading time: 3 minutes


Cees Links is a Wi-Fi pioneer, founder and CEO of Greenpeak Technologies and currently General Manager of Qorvo’s Wireless Connectivity business unit.

Winning an Olympic gold medal begins with good genes, they say. But good genes can only do so much. Even people born with exceptional abilities and talents must still work very hard to become the best. Only with the proper amount of quality training – certainly not too little, but also not too much – can someone become the best.

This is where technology comes in: it can help to maximize the training efforts. Today’s IoT technology for fitness monitoring and integrated applications is a great help to push that extra mile, to gain that extra second or to lose that extra pound. Let’s take a closer look at a day in the life of a professional cyclist and the applications that support her.

First thing in the morning, the instant Alicia opens her eyes, she’ll tap her Fitbit and check her pulse at rest. Great cyclists generally have an extraordinary heart capacity, and a lower heart rate at rest typically implies efficient heart function and good cardiovascular fitness. It can also indicate if there are any infections or circulatory problems.

This morning, our athlete has a very low heart rate, 37 beats per minute – all clear for a good training day. She starts off with a well-balanced breakfast of granola, fruit and yogurt for a total of 550 kcal. She enters the food and its weight in a food calculator app and shares it via the IoT with the nutritionist who’s part of her athletic support team. The nutritionist then optimizes Alicia’s food intake for the required output, based on three types of days: training, racing or rest.

When it’s time to start her training session, our cyclist will put on her training clothes, shoes and helmet. Her equipment is optimized by technology and the IoT: her smart helmet has bone conduction audio technology, which turns audio into vibration that goes straight to the inner ear from the tabs of the helmet straps, through the cheekbones, bypassing the eardrum. The result is amazing: Alicia can hear music and voice navigation ‘inside her head’, yet still hear the ambient sounds of traffic to maintain situational awareness for safety. It’s the safest way to listen to music while riding.

Once on her training ride, Alicia uses a power meter — a device fitted to the bike that measures the power output of the rider — and a heart rate meter to quantify her workout and give instant feedback. These measurements, along with GPS coordinates and speed, are broadcast as a live stream of sorts, so her trainer can keep track of everything in real time.

In the past, trainers could calculate the average speed during training sessions and that was about it. Today, they look at distance and speed, power output and explosivity, velocity, resistance or help from tail or headwind, and many other variables. This allows for a much better evaluation of the session, which helps to maximize performance.

In a world where every meter or second counts, people are likely to jump at the opportunity to optimize their efforts. Indeed, the IoT has a nice growth path in sports. But for the rest of us, who aren’t professional athletes, connected IoT devices and applications can yield similar benefits. We can use different apps and wearable devices like a Fitbit or Apple Watch to track our own fitness, monitor progress toward goals, share our achievements and stay motivated, as well as convey information to healthcare providers. At its heart, the IoT can bring more information and more data for sports and health – no matter your fitness level.