David Lozano, a professional cyclist competing in this month’s Amgen Tour of California, just completed Stage 4 of the big race. His top speed was 52.1 miles per hour; his total elevation gain was 11,223 feet; his average heart rate was 156 beats per minute with a peak of 205 beats per minutes; and he burned 4,246 calories — 2,938 of fats and 1,308 of carbs, to be exact. He also slept for 7 hours and 21 minutes before Stage 4.
Fans have access to these new insights thanks to Microsoft, which is partnering with AEG, presenter of the Amgen Tour of California, to equip 10 riders with its Microsoft Band 2 fitness tracker at this year’s race.
As a result, we’re able to track the performance and health of the cyclists after each stage of the 782-mile, 8-day race — everything from speed to heart rate to UV exposure to sleep patterns.
Surfacing this biometric data is a neat way to assess the athletes beyond what place they finished.
While consumers are familiar with devices like the Microsoft Band and FitBit tracking personal health, this is another example of how the technology is enhancing the experience for fans watching professional sports. This becomes even more valuable when an analyst can provide some insights into what the data actually means.
We’ve seen something similar in the NFL, with RFID chips embedded in player jerseys that show “Next-Gen Stats” related to player speed and total distance run. MLB tracks something similar, but uses radar equipment and HD optical cameras instead of wearable devices to track data like exit velocity of a home run, or degree of spin on a pitch. Separately, the MLB last month also approved two wearable devices for use during games.
The benefits of this technology are twofold — the data gives new insights to both fans, who can learn more about how a player is performing, and also to the players and coaches themselves, who might use the information to make adjustments.
It will be interesting to see if the big leagues adopt what we’re seeing at the Amgen race — for example, wouldn’t it be cool to see Russell Wilson’s heart rate as he leads the Seahawks on a fourth quarter comeback drive? This also brings up questions about whether or not that type of personal health data should be public, and who — the league, the team, the player? — owns the right to the information.
Speaking of cycling and technology, IBM partnered with USA Cycling earlier this year to use wearable devices and the IBM Cloud to improve the efficiency of training sessions.