I have been reading a lot about new technologies recently. Mostly because I am working on some textile wearable tech projects and also because I believe it is important to understand where this field is taking us to be able to make a difference with athletes. Rapid feedback and the ability to analyse performance “in-vivo” it has always been my passion, and I can see the future of our profession being very similar to the scenes we see in Formula 1. Of course, I still think the human element of informing/working with coaches and athletes is of paramount importance for successful implementation, but if we want to be ahead of the game, we need to know what’s coming and try to implement it as quickly as possible.
For this reason, I have always been reading scientific papers in various areas of knowledge to understand what other experts are doing and how their findings can help us moving forward. A couple of papers caught my eye in the last couple of weeks.
First, this paper form John Rogers’ group on a “Miniaturized Battery-Free Wireless Systems for Wearable Pulse Oximetry” published on advanced science news showing what is possible to do with flexible tiny sensors mounted on the fingertip.
This is a pretty impressive device, millimeter-scale, battery-free optoelectronic systems capable of capturing photoplethysmograms and quantitative information on blood oxygenation, heart rate, and heart rate variability transmitting data wirelessly and battery free. While this is still experimental work, the potential for such device in the sporting domain could be quite amazing also linking it to there sensors for a true body sensor network.
The other work is a review on the same journal covering the recent advances in bio integrated optoelectronics devices. The papers shows some pretty impressive epidermal electronics devices capable of measuring various physiological aspects.
Finally a paper published on Scientific Reports few months ago on a new paradigm in sweat based biosensors which provides a promising new approach and another paper on the same journal on a portable biosensor to measure cortisol.
Minimally invasive methods and wearable sensors are the only way to improve our understanding of sports performance in elite athletes, so definitively more is better. However, we still need platforms capable of working well in the “real world” and not in laboratory conditions as well as valid, reliable and practical tools to provide relevant information for influencing training/nutrition/recovery paradigms. Until then, we need to read with interest, but be careful that sometimes promising technologies may not be as good as they look like on paper (unicorns can only be found in fairy tales).
I have been recently looking at various activity monitors and apps as I am developing an interest into stress related research and wellness. Most of the research published in this field in the last twenty years suffers in fact from lack of technology to quantify more aspects of wellness and physical activity. Original studies in this field had to rely on questionnaires (reported activity/sleep/food intake), but now with the development of small portable technology measurement opportunities have improved.
In the last few years I used mainly heart rate monitors, actigraphs, and the sensewear armband to look at activity patterns, energy expenditure and sleeping patterns of athletes.
One of the most interesting tools I have come across is the Jawbone bracelet and its iPhone® app.
Jawbone seems to be a true wellness device. In fact it is capable of tracking your activity, your sleep and your meals. The Jawbone band has a built-in precision motion sensor that automatically tracks your movement (steps, distance, calories burned, pace, intensity level and active vs inactive time ) and sleep (hours slept, time to fall asleep, light vs. deep sleep and sleep quality). No information is available on validity and reliability of its measurements, and at the moment I am not aware of any study published using it. The reviews from various bloggers and magazines (see this one on Wired) have been positive. However I still have not managed to see one in action as it has been impossible to buy one online (perennially out of stock). If I can get hold of one, I promise I will write about it.
This seems to be potentially a great product for wellness and elite sport which can allow us to understand more about activity patterns, sleep and eating patterns of our athletes/clients. If it is precise and reliable.
Twitter is a fascinating tool. It is nowadays one of the best social media when it comes to speed and availability of information. I have been using it for few months now and I am amazed by the information available on twitter as well as how easy it is to communicate and reach a wide audience.
Of course with so much information available on twitter it is now possible to analyse what people write and if there are any trends in the data.
Some online solutions are available to analyse twitter feeds. Trendistic is a popular choice.
I started with some simple analysis of pain and stress to see if there is any pattern. In the last 180 days there seems to be not much fluctuation and constant reference to these words.
The same here with weightloss and strength.
Curiously, analysing the keyword tired, it seems that people are mostly expressing their tiredness in the morning rather than in the afternoon/evening after a long day at work.
So, it seems that we can now analyse people’s behavior studying their tweets. I have few ideas for applications with athletes. Will keep you posted after some longitudinal work.
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