IoT technology in the velodrome: Team USA cycling

By | 2 minute read | August 26, 2016

Team USA cycling

Collecting data is not a new phenomenon in the sports world. What has changed is how that data is collected and analyzed.

As technology has advanced and evolved, the process of collecting data from elite athletes has been streamlined – going from hours to seconds – and we have access to new levels of detail not possible before. For example, thanks to non-invasive muscle oxygenation sensors, we can better analyze energy consumption and recovery. By connecting multiple sensors and devices to the cloud, we can have instant access to training data and by leveraging cognitive systems like the Watson IoT platform we can take that obscure data and draw meaningful insights.

Team USA cycling and IoT

For the past year, IBM has worked with the USA Cycling Women’s Team Pursuit coaches and athletes to use cognitive and cloud technology to take their training data to the next level. In that time, we’ve marveled at the team’s ability to capitalize on these insights. We’ve witnessed firsthand how the athletes and coaches have successfully leveraged technology to adjust their strategy and on-track tactics.

IBM jStart working for the first time at a velodrome with USA Cycling in fall of 2015

IBM jStart working for the first time at a velodrome with USA Cycling in fall of 2015

IBM jStart working with USA Cycling in fall of 2015

IBM jStart working with USA Cycling in fall of 2015

We couldn’t be more excited about how USA Cycling has taken this new level of instant data and insight and put it to work inside the velodrome. From training for the UCI World Track Championships in March to the team’s final ride against Great Britain this summer, USA Cycling set itself apart by improving their results by more than two seconds. Not only have they trained harder, faster and stronger, they have trained smarter too.

The historical relevance of the data captured for each athlete and each combination of riders is becoming the new big data in sports. Sorting it critically to identify the outliers and to create the symbiotic winning team combinations will be made easier when looking clearly at comparative dashboards.  All sports will benefit from data capture over many years. Data is the friend that will enable new insights as the volume reaches a critical mass.

Rod Smith with USA Cycling Women's Team Pursuit at partnership celebration

Rod Smith with USA Cycling Women’s Team Pursuit at partnership celebration

IBM jStart team Rod Smith and Randy Wilcox with USA Cycling team

IBM jStart team Rod Smith and Randy Wilcox with USA Cycling team

As the coaches and athletes delve into the next level of data they would like to visualize, they will continue to guide the direction of the solution architecture and the capabilities of the technology will continue to advance to meet their needs. In the future, real-time synchronized video playback will allow the team to fully comprehend what is working in their practice routines.  At IBM, we are excited and proud to be part of USA Cycling’s extended support system and we look forward cheering for them in races to come.

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Read the new Daily Dot interview with Rod Smith to learn more about how IBM’s sensors and analytics powered USA Women’s Cycling to an Olympic medal.

If you would like to learn more about IBM’s IoT partnership with Team USA Cycling take a look at our latest series of blog posts.