Wearables and Sports

Anna Crooke Photography


We Are Wearables brought another fantastic tech-centric event to the MaRS Discovery District, this time with a sports tech focus that sides nicely with the beginning of Toronto’s PanAm Games. The event featured presentations from TritonWear, MagniWare, Onyx Motion, and a special feature of the winners of WearHacks, Breathaliver. It was a full-house with wearable tech enthusiasts and industry professionals taking in the seminar and checking out the company demonstrations of these fantastic products.

Sport technology is an immensely growing aspect of the industry that is changing the way athletes and coaches train and perform. With companies like MagniWare that gauge how an athlete performs best and how to avoid injury during training, to products like the start-up Onyx Motion whose wristband helps basketball players perfect their game without a coach, honing your athletic performance has never been easier and more tech savvy.

The panel was a mixture of tech innovators and high-performing athletes: Tristan Lehari (CEO of TritonWear), Alexander Mosa (CEO of MagniWare), Rami Nabel (CEO of PUSH), Brian Bulcke (CFL Hamilton Tiger-Cats Defensive Lineman), and Greg Douglas (two-time Olympic Sailing athlete). The discussion centered around the changes and impact that the surging wearables movement will have on coaches, athletes, the audience, and investors.

Sport technology has the ability to assist athletes in perfecting their performance and becoming greater athletes. It allows coaches to create better line-ups, gauge their athlete’s abilities, prevent injuries, and in general improve performance overall. The technology being created also spans to a better fan experience. Dale Fallon (Director of Product Management for Sportsnet & NHL Digital) presented a prototype of a more interactive fan experience. Imagine being able to hear the conversations of the players and referees on the field as was demonstrated during the presentation. This kind of engaged audience experience will create a stronger connection between fans and their teams.

While the obvious appeal of wearables centred around athletic performance has an obvious appeal, there are many other factors to consider in the wider impact they have. Dan Burke was out-spoken in bringing the invasion of privacy and security concerns of athletes to light. How often would athletes be monitored and to what extent? How would their privacy and security be impacted? What protections would there be for athletes? He also brought solid examples of talented athletes that had created memorable moments in sport while injured. Would these future moments be erased due to a coach benching someone that they gauged as being at risk through wearable technology? Athletes function on a more kinetic and primal level then perhaps technology is able to determine, so how useful are wearables in sport really?

An audience member brought up a good point of how wearables may become the new performance enhancement drug. If one or more teams are using this, they will have a significant advantage on other teams and players. It could become the new steroid – an athletic edge that everyone will need to partake in to remain competitive.

There are significant developments being made in this area of tech that could benefit other aspects of our lives, and while there are a great deals of factors to consider as it moves forward, it definitely has a slew of positive points in its favour. We just need to remember to weigh the cons.


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