Tutorial on Wearable Computing in Sports

A MobileHCI'17 Tutorial - Vienna, Austria

About the tutorial

In this tutorial we aim to introduce wearable sports technologies that provide real-time support to athletes while exercising. Topics of interest range from engineering problems to research methods as they apply in the context of mobile and ubiquitous sports technologies.

The tutorial will take place on Monday 4th of September (third slot, 14:30-16:30) at the Rote Bar. For more details see the mobileHCI website.


Tutorial Website now online.
June 29, 2017


More Details

Nowadays, sports and activity trackers are ubiquitous and widely used by professional and non-professional athletes to record and analyze their workouts. In Mobile HCI and UbiComp, wearable technology has been explored in the context of sports. Ahtinen et al. [1] studied outdoor sports tracking in general. A large body of research investigates running (see Jensen and Muller [5] for an overview). Climbing has recently been an active exploration field for tracking [7][9] and interaction [6][8].

However, the currently used measurements are mostly quantitative, i.e. assistance and feedback is only provided on performance (for example distance, elevation, or pace) but not on technique (e.g. running technique [5]). For recreational athletes, it is often difficult to interpret such numbers while displayed on a small screen (e.g. bike computer, running watch). Numerous factors influence adequate in formation representation and are not taken into account by current sports technologies [12].

An effective analysis of the technique can only be provided by professionals or expert coaches using slow motion video analysis. Since most athletes have no clue about biome- chanics and no access to a professional coach, this might lead to adaptation of wrong techniques and for example in running, a wrong technique might cause a high incidence of repetitive stress injuries, including stress fractures and knee problems [10][13]. Only few approaches exists that aim to assist the athlete to improve their running technique in real-time (e.g. [3][2][11][14]). Just recently, we propose the FootStriker [4], a wearable running assistant for motor learning of the correct running stride using EMS.

To overcome these problems, it is necessary to go beyond feedback that addresses just the quantitative aspects of the exercise and focus on meaningful feedback that gives insights into the qualitative aspects of the exercise. Designing such interactive assistance systems bares a lot of challenges. The system has to sense the user’s movements, interpret them, and provide feedback in such a way that the athlete is able to easily adapt to the changes the system suggests. To achieve this, a deliberate choice of both sen- sors and actuators has to be made. Furthermore, all of the components have to be assembled into a small form factor robust enough to be wearable during a sporting exercise. Finally, the system has to be evaluated in appropriate user studies to proof the effectiveness of its application.

The purpose of this tutorial is to introduce participants to wearable computing in sports and the special challenges that arise in the design of wearable sports technologies. Topics of interest range from engineering problems to research methods as they apply in the context of ubiquitous sports technologies.

The following topics will be mainly addressed:

  • Activity and sports tracking
  • Real-time tracking
  • Feedback methods
  • Mobile coaches
  • Mobile coaches