A recent Wired article by Kyle Stack brought to my attention something I hadn't yet seen. The Under Armour E39 compression shirt. It's a shirt that "somewhere between 10 and 30 prospects, including Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton, will wear" during the 2011 NFL Combine. It does all kinds of cool things like measuring heart rate and other things I cannot begin to understand so I'll let Mr. Stack explain:
"Just below the sternum, the shirt also contains a removable sensor pack called a "bug" that holds a triaxial accelerometer3, a processor and 2 gigabytes of storage. The information collected can be broadcast via Bluetooth to smartphones, iPads and laptops so that scouts and trainers can view the power and efficiency of each athlete’s movements. Heart-rate and breathing-rate monitors are placed on both sides of the sensor pack, helping to gather even more intel from the body’s core."
Follow me after the jump for the reasons why this is the beginning of something awesome.
This is technology that could change the way sports are played. Imagine the coaches on the sideline could see when players are tired or hurt. I picture it the same way the Madden playcall screen works. Players who are fatigued would appear as yellow or red on the display. Receivers are subbed out for after running streaks but the cornerbacks never are. They have to run back and cover again meaning there's an increased chance to give up a big play. This technology could prevent that. After each play, the coach would know his outside linebacker is gassed and make a sub before the offense takes advantage. It could work in all sports. Forget pitch counts in baseball. A player drops too far below his baseline level and his icon turns yellow to red, make the switch.
It reminds of the training montage in Rocky IV. Those interspersed clips of Rocky Balboa outside using nature as his gym and Ivan Drago being monitored and tested by machines at all times. Drago's situation is way better (the final result notwithstanding). I always thought there should be a way to use technology to protect athletes while making the game more fun to watch. This E39 compression sounds like a step in the right direction.
Think about this. In the 1990s, ESPN would televise the World Series of Poker. This was before the invention of the hole card camera. Can you imagine? Try watching some of that coverage now. It's hours of cards being dealt, the announcers guessing at what they had. We never actually find out! Poker started becoming so popular because all of a sudden we had more information than the "players." This is always a good thing.
Having the knowledge that the opposing linebacker is exhausted before the play and then praying your team takes advantage adds another element to watching football. I know the secretive NFL culture would never let that information out but as a guy who grew up on video games, it's fun to think about.
Am I wrong in thinking technology can help improve sports? We'll have to wait and see as it appears Under Armour won't roll out a full retail introduction until next year at the earliest. But wouldn't it be cool?