New ways to coach

 

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Technology and informatics don’t only provide a good platform for sporters, but also for their coaches. It provides them with options to review and analyse their athletes more carefully.

According to this article, a vital element in improving your technique is instant feedback. This way the exercise is still fresh in your mind while reviewing your movements. You get a better understanding of what you did wrong and can try again right away. Videocamera’s already provided that option for years, but it wasn’t instant enough. Your coach needed to process the video in some kind of editing tool or buy an awful lot of (expensive) equipment. Conclusion, the player got the tips or corrections too late and would often make the same mistake again next practice.

However nowadays every tablet or smartphone has an onboard camera. Editing tools are redundant because of the processing power of the tablets itself. You can easily review and make notations on the tablet itself. Slowmotion playback and comparing of two video’s at the same time are some of the many feature that become instantly available. They give a few tips and examples of how you could implement such technology in your own training sessions:

  • Preload the iPad with good examples of the technique you are going to coach and use it as a visual cue for players.
  • Use the iPad to film individual performance and then play back instantly to highlight strengths and weaknesses.
  • Analyse a filmed performance with arrows, lines, text etc to identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • Compare and contrast a young player’s performance to one of a professional.
  • Allow the players themselves to film and analyse one another, creating peer coaching.

Coaches and players can build on this new technology and work together to improve scores. The beauty of these new developments in my opinion is that they work together with the users. It is an addition rather than a replacement of a real coach. Human interpretation and assessment are still an advantage.

Will Apple reinvent the healthcare process?

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We talked about different apps that track peoples activities, sleep, food, dreams,… All great and useful apps, but Apple is working on health and fitness tracker that will be one of a whole new level, at least if we can believe the rumors. Apart from tracking activities, sleep, food,… (like all other apps), the app will contain features to get an overview of your blood pressure, blood sugar, oxygen saturation and respiratory rate. However it is unclear what devices or wearables will be necessary to be able to measure all these things.

So how will all this app change the healthcare process? First of all, Healthbook (the current working name of the app) will have a feature ‘Emergency card’. This will hold all critical data of the user. It will contain the user’s name, birthday, medication information, weight, eye color, blood type, organ donor status and location. This will make it easier for doctors and emergence technicians to treat the patient correctly, even if the patient can’t speak or is unconscious because of an injury. Second, apple wants to reinvent the process of receiving lab reports or other information you would get from hospitals. Instead of meeting with a doctor or receiving an email or a letter, all the data will get to your Healthbook and you will get notifications of your results. Healthbook will be the center of all your health information and it will remind you to take your medicines at the right time, to drink enough water, to get enough sleep,… to live healthier.

Health and fitness tracking is evolving and will continue to be a trend. I think that Apple’s Healthbook will boost this trend even harder. There are different apps for different goals, but Healthbook will integrate everything in one centered application. This total integration can change lots of peoples lifestyle and change the way to control all your health information. Together with the integration to receive lab results and other information Healthbook might reinvent the healthcare process.

One small question: Will this total overview of your health result in obsessions for perfection? Do you think people will be scared when the smallest change they notice in their health patterns, even if those changes doesn’t matter?

Share your thoughts!

For more information and rumors about Healthbook:

http://9to5mac.com/2014/03/17/this-is-healthbook-apples-first-major-step-into-health-fitness-tracking/

Nomophobia

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Nomophobia, the fear of not having your mobile phone with you. Apparently a lot of people suffer from it nowadays. With all these great apps and features our smartphones has, it has become hard to live without it.

Time magazine did a study about this with 5000 participants. (Americans, Britons, South Koreans, Chinese, Indians, South Africans, Indonesians, and Brazilians) Results were pretty shocking:

  • 84 percent said they couldn’t survive a day without their cellphones.
  • 50 percent of Americans sleep with their phone right next to them.
  • 20 percent said they check their phone every 10 minutes.

Another study confirmed these findings, and had some interesting ones to add. Facts concerning where we use our phones.

  • Apparently nearly 40 percent use their phones on while sitting on the toilet.
  • 30 percent confessed they check their phones while having a meal with others.
  • Although very dangerous, 24 percent said they check their phones while driving.

These studies make you think. Are we using our phones to much? It sure seems that we are addicted. But who’s to blame for all this? Is it our own fault or are the app developers tricking us so they can make a lot of profit? It think it’s a bit of both. There are great apps out there that really can improve our lives. However moderation is key. We don’t need an app for everything. Also a good app can work autonomously and don’t need a user to check on it every 10 minutes. If it does, I think it is likely that it is just an app to make someone rich rather than make your live easier.

I wouldn’t say I am addicted to my phone. I could live without it for a day, maybe even a week. But I sure feel that some features can make you dependent off your phone. How do you guys experience this? Are you addicted to your phone?

 

Can an app influence our dreams?

Dream:On

Nowadays there are apps that track peoples movements, food and even sleep. Sleep is recorded by some algorithms that every company wants to keep for themselves. If we have to believe the companies, the algorithms can accurately register the sleeping patterns of a person. When the user wakes up he can see how well and how long he has slept that night. Examples of such sleep tracking apps are: Jawbone Up (this app requires a extra bracelet), Sleep As Android, Sleep Cycle, Sleepbot,…

Tracking sleep is one thing, but influencing sleep by influencing dreams is something else. The developers of Dream:On claim that they can influence dreams with their application. The app Dream:On is launched by Professor Richard Wiseman from the University of Hertfordshire and says that it has some scientific approach that checks when the user is in his REM sleep (Most dreams take place during REM sleep, it is a phase during which our minds are also more sensitive to other senses). When it notices that the user is in his REM sleep the app plays a soundscape (this is a simulation of the acoustic environment of the user by playing sounds of nature phenomenons, animals or humans). According to Professor Wiseman these soundscapes are used to create your desired dreams. Different soundscapes are available in a dream store so that your can choose what kind of dream your want to create. Examples of soundscapes are: ‘travel the world’ if you want a traveling dream or ‘wild west’ if you want an adventurous dream in the hart of a shootout. You are also supposed to log your dreams manually. All logs of the dreams of the users are used by Professor Wiseman as data for a study. So the app is actually an experiment that provides lots of data that can be used to analyse.

I’m actually not sure how I think about this application. On the one hand I don’t really believe that an app can track REM sleep by movements only and especially not by just having your iphone next to you in bed. On the other hand it might be possible to steer dreams by sounds of the environment because it will create some kind of mood for your brains. Also if it is used as an experiment, it’s a clever way to get lots of data for a study. The app is definitely worth the try!

Share your thoughts!

 

Gamification in sports

One might think that sports are already games on their own. However they can still be gamificated. In following article they explain how skiing can be improved by gamification.

With the use of EpicMix you can keep track of how many kilometers you have skied, see where your family or friends are and compete with your friends for points and badges. Also part of the service are the photographers that are present at the mountains where this system is implemented. By scanning your badge photo’s are uploaded to your profile and even your twitter or Facebook account if you like. This leaves you with doing what you like without the hassle of bringing a camera. This brings you a richer experience. You can come home and you know exactly where you have been or how far you have skied. Even better, you have the pictures to prove it.

Just like this example there are also other sports where this techniques can be applied. In the article they explain which elements should be present to get the desired effect of grabbing people’s attention. For the full list you can check the article, but the basic idea is that you build up some kind of point/reward system.

Once you understand this system people can implement it in their own creations. People without coding capabilities still can use this system to improve their lifestyle. That is the beauty of the technique. If you award yourself with “bonus” points if you do something good or health, you get encouraged to make better choices. The only question maybe is how many point you would award to which activity/choice. If you are not objective enough the grading can get deformed.

Would any of you apply these techniques in your own live? Or would you rather wait until someone makes an app for it? Are there maybe some of you that don’t believe that gamification works?

A healthy lifestyle to increase academic performances?

Is their a link between health and academic performance? Well, according to studies that are mentioned in a paper about the health of students and their academic achievements (see link at the bottom of this post) their is indeed a link between the two fields. The paper states that healthy children are in a better position to acquire knowledge than unhealthy children. It also says the there are already a lot of publications that concluded that health and academic performance are intertwined. Unhealthy habits as alcohol, tobacco and other kinds of drugs can lead to less concentration, a more negative attitude towards school, more health risks,… that can result in more absence and eventually lower grades. Another bad influence on academic performances is a bad diet. Poor nutrition has a negative effect on learning, concentration and the energy level of the child which again can lead to lower grades.

Different schools in America have school health policies to try to make their student live healthier and give them a better chance in succeeding. Physical activities are an important aspect of these health plans. Study shown that exercising has a positive influence on academic outcomes, maintenance of relationships with people and reduce of depression, anxiety and fatigue.

Personally, I wouldn’t live healthier for better academic performances only. I would do it for other advantages as less chance of diseases, living longer, the energy you get from it and the healthy look it will give you. But of course a better academic performance is a big advantage and is something to keep in mind as motivation to live healthy.

Would you change your lifestyle to a healthy one (if it’s not already the case) only to influence your academic performances positively? Or would all the other advantages convince you to live healthy?

Reference:

Symons Wolford, C., Cinelli, B., James, T., Groff, P., 1997, Bridging student health risks and academic achievement through comprehensive school health programs, Journal of School Health, Vol.67, No. 6

To walk again

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Technology not only offers new options for sporters, also people with a physical disability can benefit from the latest evolutions.

In an article on digitaljournal.com they talk with a pediatric physical therapist, Mahir Reiss about the evolution his field has made. According to him technology has shortened healing time, increased comfort during treatment, en improved overall quality and options of care. Some technologies are not introduced yet, but some of them are talking baby steps into the real world.

He start of with mentioning that aquatic therapy, one of the most common therapies these days, has improved a lot since its first introduction. They now can control the heating and circulation more accurately making the treatment easier and more comfortable. Treatment can be more specific and accurate this way.

One of the most exciting new technologies that is being introduced more and more nowadays are the so called “exoskeletons”. They still are pretty costly but can give us a view on what the future might bring us. An example of this is the Ekso Suit. It is a suit that enables people with a physical disability to talk their first steps. It’s even built to support this transition with a few modes. “FirstStep”, allows the therapist to initiate the step to train the new user and make them custom to the new environment. In “ActiveStep”, the user gets the opportunity to initiate step himself with the push of a button. The final mode “ProStep”, senses when the user wants to take a step and takes the step for him.

Last but not least Mahir Reiss believes that social media also has an influence on physical therapy. It makes the gap between patients and therapists a lot smaller. It is easier for the therapist to keep updated on the a patient’s condition and offer suggestions or answer questions or concerns. It makes the communication a lot more open. People (and certainly children) feel more at comfortable.

Technology certainly can provide some fascination solutions for people with a disability. Being able to walk after years of riding in a wheelchair would be a dream that comes true for a lot of disabled persons.

Is this the future of sport clothing?

This promo movie of Under Armour, an American sports clothing and accessories company, gives you a glimpse of the future of sports clothing. In this movie Under Armour shows a concept of an innovative piece of clothing. They show clothing with technology build in the fabric of it. No extra bracelets, watches, heart rate monitors,… Everything would be build in peoples clothes.

The movie only gives a glimpse of what the future can bring. But if it is true that they are building a product like that, it would change the paradigm of sport clothes. Sport clothing wouldn’t be seen as just clothes to wear while exercising anymore, it would be something you wear to log all your movements and activities. It would be use to become better, to learn all your body movements and improve them where necessary. And if we have to believe the following promo movie of Under Armour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYCvIr0fWnM, they really are building such a product.

I think the concept is truly amazing. It gives a whole new dimension on exercising and the things you wear while doing it. It is a perfect example of the influence of technology on sport activities. It proves that sport and technology will integrate and the whole concept of tracking and logging will become standard in certain sport activities. It also indicates that technology is and will be used to improve all kinds of skills and to make athletes and recreative sporter better and better an better.

But the question is: is this possible? Do you think that what Under Armour shows in their movie is realistic? Do you think people will wear these kinds of clothes or is it only destined for the professional athletes? Share your thoughts!

Using technology to promote physical activity.

This blogpost is about an article “Using technology to promote physical activity” that I found on humankinetics.com. It is a part of a book “Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription, Sixth Edition“, by Vivian Heyward. In this article they talk about how and more specific which kind of technology can convince people to be more active.

First of all they mention a few regular technologies, like pedometer, accelerometer, heart rate monitor, gps and geographic information system. These technologies exist for quite some time now. Everybody knows what they can do. However they keep improving and keep getting cheaper. This means they start to appear everywhere. In our mobile phones, watches,… According to the author this only benefits the measurement. Because if you can combine these measurements they are a lot  more accurate.

Another “technology” she mentions benefits from this evolution. The interactive video games. They use these sensors and incorporate them in video games. Although they are never as good as real physical activities (sports), they can be an encouragement to start with physical exercises. They are far less scary because of there playful character. And they are doing much better than the sedentary computer games a lot of people are exposed to. This is also called persuasive technology, technology that tries to adapt our behavior without us knowing it.

I like this kind of evolution in our society, it encourages everyone to keep active instead of making our lives to easy by doing everything for us. However it could still end up bad. If people think they can get away with only playing on the wii, they still will live unhealthy. I think it could be a good starting point or extra next to “real” sports. Only in some cases where people aren’t able to sport (like elderly people or people with an injury) it could be a solution. I more believe in bringing the sensors in a outdoor situation. Use these technologies to record and track how someone is performing. I foresee a great future in these applications. If they keep privacy of all these logged info in mind of course.

Technology in Sport – Is it cheating?

Today I have found an interesting question raised by Professor Steve Haake. He poses the question whether technology in sports can be considered as cheating.

He explains that there are different factors that influence the score of an athlete. Globalization used to have a great impact. By this we mean: population growth, nutrition, coaching, professionalization,… These factors have spread around the globe, when one coach finds new techniques they are been copied by other coaches in no time. In our times with internet and camera’s everywhere, it is hard to do something revolutionary without everyone noticing.

With this in mind one can notice that sport results are getting closer to a limit. A limit of what is “humanly possible”. For example I think it is safe to say that people will never be able to run a marathon in 5minutes. So the future for sports isn’t looking bright if we look at it from this perspective. National/world records will become scarce. This could not only become demotivating for the athletes but also pretty boring for the spectators.

Then what about technology? It is no secret that technology enhances sport performance. But whether or not it is considered cheating all depends on what the rules are. Rules are not as static as you might think. They need to evolve together with the new technologies. Acceptance the technology depends for example on whether or not the technology is accessible for everyone equally.

So is technology cheating ? In my opinion not. As long as the rules are adapted. There needs to be a balance between keeping the sport interesting and challenging and at the same time give all the competitors a fair chance. In some way you could say that technology will determine the future of sports.