Wearable Sports Technology: What to Expect in 2015

There's need for actionable data, a customized user experience and versatile partnerships
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Wearable sports technology is a game-changer when it comes to how athletes across all levels -- professional, amateur, collegiate, and youth -- practice.

It is not just common anymore, but actually expected that coaches incorporate data and technology into training routines.  According to Juniper Research, the wearable device industry will hit $19 billion by 2018 so the near future will be an interesting and critical time.

Many wearable tech companies have already won over coaches and athletes, and made them believers of sports data and its profound effect on athletic improvement.  Now, the companies that rise above the competition will be those that alter their strategy to not only provide data, but make it actionable in a high-quality, interactive way.

There are three major trends that we can expect to see in sports wearables in 2015:  a move towards actionable data, building the customer experience, and the formation of versatile partnerships. 

Provide Actionable Data

One of the toughest tasks in the wearables world is delivering effective sports data into actual coachable intelligence. There are so many fitness trackers on the market that simply throw numbers onto the screen of a mobile device, but do not provide ways to improve those numbers or even simply explain how the numbers affect the user. 

For example, a typical wearable sports device can provide the user with the speed or velocity of a baseball swing. However, that information will not help the batter connect with the pitch for a line drive to center field. That is where coaches and athletes need advancements in wearables, and this is what will make a product and company stand out in the industry next year. The best wearables will analyze a collection of sports data, and then tailor drills and tips to be delivered to the athlete or coach to rectify weak points for continuous improvement.

Build the Customer Experience 

Hardware is hard. Building a customer experience is underrated, and this will be the next big shift in wearable sports technology in 2015.  The customer’s desire for first-rate multimedia and an interactive experience is a sign of the times, and it is an obvious next step for wearables which is still, essentially, in its infancy.  Actionable data needs to be delivered in the corresponding app with high-quality resources that fuse together visually appealing videos, renderings, and images with audible commentary.

Coaches are always telling athletes to first visualize their movements, and then practice with repetition in order to build muscle memory. This is why a compelling visual component that demonstrates data in action will come out a big winner in the sports circles. 

Form the Right Partnerships

Wearable technology for sports comes in all types of packages including bands that go around the wrist or chest, or sensors that are placed on bats, rackets and other equipment. The ability for coaches and players to receive real-time information that will up the ante of a performance has been proven, and there is no doubt that the technology is here to stay.  Major companies for sports apparel or sports equipment will be interested in exploring potential opportunities for partnerships where the devices can be incorporated into their own products, and it is reasonable to expect some big partnership announcements next year. 

It’s a competitive world:  Athletes want to dominate the competition, coaches want to find ways to inspire, motivate, and creatively teach their teams, and companies want to churn out the best possible product to exceed customer expectations.

It is a fascinating time for the business of wearable sports technology, and there will be big changes over the next 12 months.  As technology improves, so will the players who invest in it, and that, in turn, will make games even more fun to watch.  It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Jason Fass is CEO of Zepp Labs, which iscommitted to developing the advanced 3D visuals, actionable insights and interactive training tools needed to truly transform competitive sports.

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