Chain reaction: USA cycling and IBM Watson IoT

By | 2 minute read | June 15, 2016

Photos by John Huet.

In February USA Cycling Coach Neal Henderson first announced how Team USA would use the IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) platform to help his riders.

One of the first of its kind, this gold standard of sporting partnerships meant that cyclists could learn to make adjustments as they rode, using cutting edge technology to change the relationship between the rider and their bike. The team hoped that introducing IoT technologies would give them the competitive edge they needed to go for gold.

Just two weeks later, Team USA took gold for the Women’s Team Pursuit at the World Championships in London — earning their first world championship title in the event.

Project 2016 – an IoT bicycle

With the major competitions drawing near, Team USA has announced Project 2016, a new team pursuit bicycle with a groundbreaking technology ecosystem designed to make the USA World Champion women’s pursuit team the fastest in the world.

With IBM, Project 2016 uses a mobile-enabled, cloud-based IoT solution that simplifies and speeds up the process of collecting and analyzing key training data. Before this partnership, coaches would spend hours after training analyzing top speeds, and riders’ efficiency.

This process often took so long, that riders would not be able to make adjustments before the next training session — leaving them to play catchup with the information.

Watson IoT and real-time data

With Watson IoT and analytics, coaches can watch the analysis in real-time. And riders can see it in their Solos eyewear in real-time, or review a dashboard as soon as they step off the peddles.

Data sources include a power meter, heart rate monitor and muscle oxygen sensor. This data is then run through a customized IBM Watson IoT Platform specially designed to convert it into information relevant to the cycling team.

In Team Pursuit, riders work as a group to maximize results. Riders draft behind one another to minimize energy exerted. In a sport going this fast, every tenth of a second counts. By displaying all of the riders’ data on the dashboard, the Watson IoT Platform helps the riders to understand not only their own ride, but their teammates as well. By understanding every team member’s strengths and weaknesses, each rider can understand their role on the team.

This analysis gives great insight to coaches and athletes, they can identify tactics, see areas of improvement, and know that their race strategy is working. An incredible performance improving, time saving, innovative technology solution that will hopefully help the USA Cycling team be the best in the world!

IoT in sports

For IBM Watson IoT, Cloud, Analytics, Mobile and IBM jStart, this partnership is just the start of things, the Internet of Things is changing the game across the world of sports and fitness. Tell us below who you’re cheering for at the games or how IoT can give you a competitive edge in your favorite sport. Also, join us each week as we explore the Team Pursuit #RidetoRio through the lens of John Huet and the words of the athletes, coaches and technologists. Or get more information on the IBM and USA Cycling Women’s Team Pursuit.