USA Cycling: getting one step closer to perfection

By and Randall E Wilcox | 3 minute read | September 15, 2016

Team USA cycling

Like everything else these days, the sports industry is also being driven by just-in-time data and analytics. Cloud and IoT economics is transforming sports coaching with web apps that include up-to-the-minute performance data of each athlete’s actions. Training data may very well become the new currency over the course of an athlete’s career.

Studying the performance data of each athlete, and comparing the outcome with the athlete’s previous performance and its impact on collective team performance, provides invaluable and actionable insights that leads a sports coach to provide the nuanced training that can bring the team one step closer to perfection.

USA Cycling has been working with IBM since October 2015 to transform its approach to coaching the athletes using analytics with a mobile-enabled cloud-based IoT solution. It instantly delivers performance metrics to the coaches’ iPads in the form of a real-time and post session summary iOS dashboards that present relevant performance metrics in an intuitive graphical format for each athlete.

Cycling (with technology) makes perfect

Armed with the insights from data, coaches and riders can instantly understand how each training session is going, identify optimal race tactics, discuss areas for improvement and reinforce winning strategies. All this is well documented on the IBM jStart site.

But when every 1/100th of a second counts, neither USA Cycling nor IBM can sit on their laurels. So, in our most recent enhancement of the iOS training app, we added synchronized video streams to the IoT data to enrich and enhance the training session. This will allow the coaches to playback any or all videos from the velodrome and IoT data synchronously on the same iPad during a training session.

Now coaches and cyclists can easily see how improving upon a particular technique during cyclist exchange can enhance the team performance. A picture’s worth a thousand words and, maybe a win.

In addition to IBM Watson, IBM Analytics for Apache Spark and IBM IoT Platform in the IBM Cloud, we added IBM Aspera, to transfer rich video files and IBM Cloud Object Storage to store/retrieve the video files. IBM Bluemix acts as a cloud integration hub, receiving the data from various sources, and directing it to other components in the solution. This iOS app clearly demonstrates how different services in the IBM Cloud can be leveraged to deliver real time insights that were not possible in the past.

Coaches can now use a slider bar to fast forward and reverse the video to a precise point in time or distance during the training session and point to the corresponding IoT data to provide to-the-point feedback to the athletes.

While the sensor data and real-time analytics provided the key information that was presented in the dashboard for the team’s coach to utilize in their training sessions, the concurrent display of video is going to add the much-needed ‘context’ for the precise coaching for performance assessment and improvement.

IBM jStart app shows synchronized video and IoT data streams to reveal precise coaching moments for Team USA cycling

IBM jStart app shows synchronized video and IoT data streams to reveal precise coaching moments for Team USA cycling

In today’s race to succeed, leaders are looking for more ways to leverage data to create value. Cloud is maturing into an environment for innovation and business value that does just that. We could apply the lessons learned from the USA Cycling iOS app in other industries.

Just imagine the numerous workflow optimization apps in sports and other industries that could benefit from harnessing synchronized video and Internet of Things (IoT) data to bring a team one step closer to perfection and provide competitive advantage by increasing efficiency or reducing costs.

Learn more about IBM Cloud Object Storage. Or read our other Team USA stories.