Five reasons IoT should be adopted in sports and fitness

28 Jul. 22

Kristy Cheung, a Hong Kong fencer, is Kristy. She competes with the I-Fencing Alliance Club. Kristy is trained in a special fencing suit with sensors that record her movements. All data is compiled and analyzed to provide insights into Kristy’s strength, flexibility, and balance. Kristy believes IoT can be used in sports to improve performance. Here’s what she said: “It’s fascinating to quickly see where my mistakes are.” I can instantly address any weaknesses that I didn’t know I had. I feel more confident in performing my best.

This knowledge is very helpful to all athletes, whether they are competing or recovering. The IoT services are used by the sports industry to provide innovative ways for athletes to improve their performance and analyze it. This is just one contribution of IoT to fitness.

Continue reading this article to learn more about IoT applications in sports and fitness, and how you can implement your own project.


What does the Internet of Things have to do with sports?


Everyone was forced to stay home after the COVID-19 epidemic. People wanted to keep fit so they started using at-home workouts. This new gym culture didn’t just include exercising at home. Both professional athletes and fitness enthusiasts turned to science to analyze their performance and offer improvement suggestions.

The global market for sports analytics has grown and is now expected to exceed 10 billion by 2028. This is an increase of 2.2 billion in 2020. The global sports technology industry is expected to reach $17.9billion by 2026. As more people realize the benefits of IoT technology, such as safety and convenience, the number is increasing rapidly. Statista predicts that this number will reach 1,105 millions units by 2022.

How can people use the Internet of Things for health and fitness?

Users can also wear IoT fitness monitors that record different parameters such as their pulse to track calories burned and the intensity of training.

Professional athletes prefer to use more complex measurements such as motion tracking. This is when multiple sensors capture and transmit data about the user’s body position to create their skeleton model. This allows for the user to better understand their body and makes it possible to improve in certain sports like fencing and javelin throwing. Sensors can also measure intensity and body motion. Sensors mounted on equipment such as training equipment can be used to measure the weight that an athlete can lift.

A professional can also benefit by analyzing their vital signs. This will show how quickly they recover and how they perform at their peak.


Wearables aren’t the only way IoT can be used to improve fitness. Sensors can be placed inside sports stadiums, or attached to equipment to enhance customer experience. Other benefits of the Internet of Things are also available to sports:

  • This allows people to monitor vital signs and detect any minor health problems in real-time.
  • Allows for customization of workouts to improve training and speed up rehabilitation
  • Preventive maintenance is easier as gym owners can keep track of equipment usage
  • Sports organizations can be empowered to increase fan engagement


IoT in sport applications and trends


Exercise in groups


IoT technology allows people to take part in group training without ever leaving their home. These solutions are used by gyms to enable remote training and keep customers who can’t attend.

Multiple participants can exercise simultaneously at home using wireless sensors. The trainer will share data with them to monitor their progress and better serve the group.

Peloton, an American manufacturer of gym equipment, is one example of such virtual group sessions. Smart stationary bikes and treadmills were created by Peloton, which allows users to join virtual training sessions with other runners and cyclists from the same area while staying at home.


Immersive Training


Virtual reality (VR), connected IoT fitness devices and virtual reality (VR), allow users to immerse themselves in a simulated setting while staying at home. VR headsets such as Oculus Rift allow users to ride on famous cycling events from their stationary bikes and run virtual marathons.

Connected sensors allow users to monitor their heart rate and then compare it with others who are doing the same activity. They allow the environment to respond to user’s movements and stimulate them.


Smart sports venues


Smart stadiums can connect to different IoT fitness devices such as sensors, cameras and digital signage to create an amazing fan experience. They can provide information about parking, bathrooms availability, promotions and direct users to their seats. Stadium staff can also respond quickly to any incident using the technology.

Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California is an example of IoT sporting technology. The beacons, which are powered by batteries, help users find their seats and place food orders.

Tour de France, the world’s largest cycling event, created a digital twin with a tech partner in 2021. This was made possible by real-time data and the collaboration of two technology partners. The organizers had constant visibility of riders and key locations which made the competition much easier to manage. Peter Gray, Senior Vice-President, Advanced Technology Group Sport at NTT, said that digitizing such a large event was a difficult task. Here’s his statement : “It is a highly dynamic, changing environment that requires immediate information to ensure smooth operations. This results in more informed fans and better engagement.”


Maintenance of equipment and management of facilities


It can sometimes be difficult to see which machines are most used and which ones are less so, just by looking at the stock. The IoT in sport sensors allows gym owners to gather and analyze real-time data about their equipment to determine which machines are most at risk during a workout session. Sensors can also be used to detect high-demand machines and the longest waiting times for customers. These sensors can detect system failure and pipe leakage if they are strategically placed.

The owner can manage the entire facility by placing Fitness IoT devices at various locations around the gym. Sensors can be used to notify staff about full trash bins, paper towel usage, and empty sanitizers.

IoT sports technology also allows you to monitor and adjust the environment in your gym, such as temperature, humidity, lighting, and other parameters. This can help to reduce costs and avoid revenue loss by optimizing energy use. Customers may also be able to switch gyms if they’re unhappy with their current environment. One study found that gyms with poor ventilation could lose as much as $38,500 annually due to customers not being able handle sweaty smells.

Finland is another country that uses IoT in sports. Kaltiot’s IoT technology was used by Helsinki to track usage at its 160 outdoor gyms. These devices are difficult to maintain with traditional maintenance. Kaltiot designed tracking solutions that could work in Finland’s harsh environment and collect data about equipment usage. Harri Uusimaki is Helsinki’s leading maintenance manager for outdoor recreation. She described the benefits of the collected data as follows: “The data Kaltiot’s track solution provides is an untapped area in fitness research. This data allows us to place the right types of outdoor fitness equipment at the right locations. This data allows us to purchase the best devices for our users.


Performance tracking and sharing of health data


The Internet of Things fitness trackers collect various user parameters. These data can be used to tailor a workout program to suit the individual’s needs.

Professional athletes can have their coaches collect performance data and make adjustments to their diet and exercise. HUMANoX is a sports tech company that introduced lightweight carbon fiber shin pads. These pads can be worn by football players during training and in official matches. This product is enhanced with sensors and can collect data from players and share it with their coach. They can then analyze and offer improvement suggestions.

ITRex: A use case for AI and the Internet of Things in Sports: AI meets IOT


Artificial intelligence (AI), can be used to improve the performance of IoT-based fitness systems. We have an example of how IoT and AI can be combined to allow people to train at their own pace without having to go to the gym. ITRex was hired to create a fitness mirror and a personal AI-powered coach by a North American tech company.


Project description


Our team created a full-length mirror that was fully functional with custom operating systems, hardware drivers, cameras and a custom machine learning (ML), model for user performance analysis, personalized recommendations, and computer vision for body tracking and pose estimation. We also provided an automation testing framework which verifies all aspects of the system, including ML performance.

Sensors collect different types of data when users exercise in front the mirror. These include body position, weight, and even body composition. All of this data is sent to the mirror for processing locally, or to the cloud to be stored and analysed. The virtual coach at the mirror counts correct reps and offers advice to help users improve their results. It can also point out that the angle of weight hold is incorrect or that the user is squatting too low. The more sensors used, the better the advice.

This IoT sports solution creates dashboards for visualizing the results after processing user data. Users can share their data with coaches and other peers.


IoT components


Three types of sensors are used to operate the fitness mirror:

  • Attached to equipment, such as weights, are removable internet of things fitness sensors. These sensors can be used to track total loads, explosive strength, time under tension, and other relevant information.
  • There are three camera sensors built into the mirror. These sensors measure various dimensions such as user’s distance from mirror and create a 3D model to show how the person is moving.
  • Optionally, users can connect their wearable devices to the system. The system will also process the data.


Considerations for implementation


Our team did extensive research and discovery during product development to find and solve potential problems. To validate our assumptions, we also did a proof-of-concept (PoC). IoT projects should go through the initial research phase and discovery phase in order to anticipate potential problems and plan for success.

These are the top concerns that our team identified, and were successfully addressed for this use case.

  • How can you make sure AI is able to focus on the person who is exercising, even if there are other people in the room?
  • How to adapt AI so it can recognise correct forms in people of different fitness levels, not just for professional athletes but also for beginners.
  • How do you adjust the system to your room dimensions after installation?
  • How do you enable support for all commonly-used wearable device users may want to connect
  • How can you ensure that the measured signals and values for different workouts are accurate?
  • How to balance device costs, reliability, performance, and cost
  • How to create a user-friendly UI/UX that allows everyone to find what they need
  • How can you make the mirror more attractive so users will want to spend more time in it


IoT in sport and fitness: Implementation tips


We have some tips for startups that are looking to create an IoT-based fitness system. Yahor Paloika is an IoT expert and R&D engineer. He recommends following these steps to implement IoT in sports.

  • Decide what type of data you wish to collect and how to analyze it to create value. For some sports, viewing heart rate and electrocardiography (ECG)/photoplethysmography (PPG) is important. Athletes’ body positioning is important in other sports. Some parameters are easy to handle. There is technology that can accurately measure the pulse of the human body. However, it is still difficult to measure blood pressure.

How you will capture your data is up to you. Consider the hardware and sensors you’ll need. You will need a device that can be used to measure your body mass index. A suit will have motion trackers and powerful cameras to help you create a 3D skeleton model.


  • You should also think about how you can aggregate data and where it will be stored and processed. The fitness Internet of Things device can process data locally if it is sufficiently powerful. You will need to make sure that the data is transferred to the cloud as soon as possible.
  • Preparation for data analysis Raw data alone isn’t valuable. It is necessary to find a way to extract useful insights that can be used to improve performance. Any IoT fitness solution must be based on mathematical models that can analyze data to give athletes suggestions on how to improve their performance or just to help them understand their current situation. One example is that someone could use sensors to monitor their pulse during exercise. Although this information is not very valuable by itself, it can be used to calculate how many calories a person has burned.

Security is a key consideration. Security threats are common with IoT-connected devices. Kaspersky reported that more than 1.5 billion IoT devices were compromised in the first half 2021, while only 639 million similar incidents were recorded during 2020. It is important to remember that connected devices are not the only ones at risk. IoT gateways and embedded systems as well as data storage centers, can also be targeted.


  • Safety of users is also important. Wearable sensors should not cause discomfort or harm.


Our blog contains relevant resources


You might want to consider your data management strategy, as IoT is closely linked with data analytics. You might also consider integrating artificial Intelligence and its subtypes in your IoT fitness system to gain useful insights. You might also consider the Internet of Bodies to monitor human body biometrics or the Human Pose Estimation to understand body positioning. This article will assist you in estimating the budget for your IoT sports solution.

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