Sports technology: the calm after the stormSubscribe
Prof Steve Haake 09 February 2012
Prof Steve Haake, a UK Sport Innovation Partner from Sheffield Hallam University shares his view from outside UK Sport.
So, 2012 is here at last. As an academic working on the periphery of elite sport, it’s like a starting pistol has sounded; people suddenly want your attention, they want a quote, they want a lecture, what about a science festival and what a great idea why don’t we organise a conference around August?
Ironically, behind the scenes from a technology point of view, most of the work has been done. The window of opportunity to change anything has gone and, like students preparing for exams, the athletes, performance analysts and coaches have got their heads down revising for that big test in the summer. So while things are whirling like a hammer thrower in the world outside, it seems to me that things on the inside are calm; we’ve done our job and the teams are doing theirs.
We started working with UK Sport over 10 years ago and became a UK Sport Innovation Partner in 2008 alongside the likes of Fraser Nash and Loughborough University.
We’ve had the fortune to be able to design bespoke performance analysis tools for many of UK Sport’s teams and it’s nice to hear second hand about them in use. I don’t mean ‘second hand’ as an insult, it’s just that if we don’t hear anything, it means that things are running smoothly. No news is definitely good news. Our storm came around 2-3 years ago when everything was needed to support the athletes in training.
It’s been fun developing the systems for all the sports we’ve worked with (I’ve lost count but it must be over a dozen by now) and if you’ve suddenly noticed cameras, iPads and wall mounted touch screens appear in some of the UK’s elite gyms with a neat bit of software to go with it, then that probably came from us. Although many of the things I’d like to tell you are top secret until after the Olympics, lets just say that Britian’s athletes will have used the latest systems which, like the Apple iPod and iPad they often link to, are so seamless that they allow the coach to coach and the athlete to train while the hardware does all the number crunching behind the scenes.
So it’s seems weird to say it, but from a technology standpoint, we’ve already moved on from the 2012 Olympics; we’re now looking at Glasgow 2014, Soichi 2014 and Rio de Janiero 2016. Perhaps I’ll be allowed to tell you in a future blog about the automated competition analysis system which will be ready for the next Olympiad, or the latest ideas in mobile biomechanical analysis.
In the meantime, the current maelstrom of excitement in the country will continue, while at the centre of it all, the athletes calmly, and efficiently, prepare. Roll on 27 July.
Prof Steve Haake is Director of the Centre for Sports Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam University which is a UK Sport Innovation Partner.