Boosting performance with the power of analytics and IoT: USA Women’s Cycling

By | 3 minute read | March 2, 2017

Mobile World Congress

Here at MWC 2017 in Barcelona, the IBM Booth has brought in a slice of a velodrome to recreate a cycling team’s racing experience. The display includes one of the real USA Women’s Cycling Team Pursuit squad bikes – used by the riders to race. To keep it realistic, the IBM team worked with the architect that designs cycling velodromes around the world: the bike is positioned at the precise angle the riders experience while racing around the deep curves of a racing venue; even the floor of the display is Siberian Spruce. But why is the racing experience here?

Photo of the Velodrome Experience

Figure 1: Photo of the Velodrome Experience

Using real-time insights is a winner

In women’s cycling there are four riders. While working as a team, they also have to hone in on their individual power output and optimize their individual performance. The challenge the riders faced was they had a variety of different data silos they were pulling together manually. To help, IBM joined forces with the USA Cycling Women’s Team Pursuit to develop a solution so the coaches could see real time insights about their riders and make adjustments to rider performance.

Boosting performance with the power of data

When they started to work with IBM jStart, the team was able to use Watson IoT to capture data from the power meters on the bike – wattage, output; there are sensors on the riders that measure things like oxygen output; and there are also sensors that capture environmental data like humidity in the velodrome and lap timing.

Real-time Coach and Athletic Feedback Dashboard

Figure 2: Real-time Coach and Athletic Feedback Dashboard

There are all sorts of analytics that are fed into Watson IoT Platform in the cloud, captured from the bike, the rider, the venue and the environment. What they did was develop a mobile dashboard for the coaches so instead of having to go back and use the historical data, they were able to access and use the data in real time.

Here’s how the mobile dashboard works

Figure 3: Here’s how the mobile dashboard works

A cloud based solution offers more flexibility

An added advantage is that the cycling team’s solution is cloud based, meaning new technology and data elements can be added continuously. For example, one capability which has just recently been added is the ability to match video and analyze video at the same time as the data about the riders. For example, the coaches can now look at a rider’s performance and an exchange, perhaps going from a pull position to the back to assess the performance of that exchange – to determine, using data, what was good about it, or why it was bad exchange.

Data gives the team the competitive edge

The Women’s USA Cycling Team Pursuit had been in 5th place in the world. Using Watson IoT to analyze their performance in real time enabled them to close a 4.5% gap in performance. In competitive athletics, a 3% improvement is huge. With the use of Watson IoT Platform and real time analytics, the team was able to achieve 4.5% improvement to go on to win the Silver Medal in Rio, and just this week won the Gold at Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup Los Angeles.

The future of immersive sports experiences

IoT and mobile technologies are changing the way fans experience sports events. A cyclist travels around a track at 54 kilometres per hour – all in an intricate balance. Imagine how much better a fan’s experience could be if they were able to immerse themselves in the action on that track, staying with the rider as he or she completes the race. Using mobility and IoT together, it’s possible to create a more immersive experience where spectators can engage with their favourite athlete’s every move.

Track your performance with IoT

Whether you are an athlete, a fan, or a venue spectator, Watson IoT is changing the game – transforming the way we interact with sports. With Watson IoT and IBM Analytics, athletes can track their progress, compare themselves with others, gain access to knowledge and expertise and learn how to recover effectively between training sessions. Under Armour’s Health Box is a connected devices that utilizes Watson Analytics to provide data and insights to enhance performance.

Get your competitive advantage

Grab your gold by trying the Data and Analytics services on IBM Bluemix, including IBM Analytics for Apache Spark and IBM’s new Data Science Experience.

It’s easy to start using Watson IoT to easily and securely connect your IoT devices through the Watson IoT Platform.