Ryerson University and the Digital Media Zone have entered the game of wearable technology and sports.
The university and DMZ co-present SportsHack at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre from Nov. 14 to 16, a weekend-long hacking competition focused on creating original code to solve a problem surrounding the theme of sports, in partnership with IBM and We Are Wearables, an organization dedicated to promoting wearable technology.
Participants in teams of up to four will be presented with a to-be-named problem involving some sort of sports theme. Teams will have the weekend to come up with a solution by writing orignial code using a variety of the newest wearable technology device, including IBM’s Bluemix, Myo, Kiwi, Muse, MeU and Oculus Rift technology.
“Toronto is building a community that’s unparalleled in the world for wearable technology and bringing together the expertise required to build that technology and build that ecosystem is really important,” said Jarrod Ladouceur, project manager for the Ryerson Centre for Cloud and Content Awareness Computing, at a recent meet-up for the event. “It’s a unique event and a unique theme. [Wearable technology is] apparently the future of sports and it’s at the very, very beginning of stages.”
A panel will rate the solutions based on “uniqueness,” “creativity,” and “commercial potential” according to the event website. Judges include Spabbit founder James Gibbons; Dr. Hossein Rahnama, research and innovation director for the DMZ; Graham Churchill from IBM Canada; and former Dragons’ Den star Bruce Croxon.
Croxon got involved with the event through the program’s partnership with IBM and was excited about the innovative nature of combining sports with wearable technology.
“[It] literally could be the first step in Toronto for sports, so he thought it was very interesting to get involved,” Ladouceur said.
Prizes for the event include a grand prize of $3,200 in cash and wearable technologies as well as a runner-up prize valued at $1,100.
Ryerson student Ryan Ing said he heard about the event online and was intrigued by SportsHack’s use of startup wearables like Myo and that although Ryerson is really pushing the DMZ and entrepreneurship, there haven’t been many hackathons at the school in the past.
The event emphasizes the recent focus on analytics in sports. Professional sports teams across many leagues have already begun using wearable technology to help monitor conditioning of players and player performance to help better their game. As reported by the National Post, Toronto FC has incorporated wearable technology during practice to track players’ heart rates to help determine when to take players off and prevent injury.
The Toronto Raptors use wearable technology on the court too, with Australia-based Catapult Sports, designer of wearable technology and athlete analytics programs, citing the team as one of its many NBA clients.
Wearables have also made their way into university sports. According to Ryerson Rams women’s basketball coach Carly Clarke, her team uses wearable heart-rate monitors, while the University of British Columbia and the University of Calgary are both clients of Catapult Sports.
Event organizer Ladouceur says that the event is a good way of bringing awareness of the technologies in Toronto in an entertaining manner.
“We can do lectures on new technology but that’s no fun,” he said. “We thought the hackathon was a great way for developers, user experienced individuals to really get their hands dirty with the technology and learn the technology so they can be progressive.”
Check out a breakdown of some of the technologies that will be featured at the event below:
According to its website, Bluemix is IBM’s “implementation of Open Cloud Architecture” that allows developers to create and manage cloud apps all while using other frameworks and services.
Created by Robert Tu, MeU is a piece of open sourced, wearable technology that allows users to display messages on a flexible LED panel controlled by your smartphone. According to their website, MeU is offered for: cycling (“stay safe with Me by providing runners and cyclists an easy and hands-free method of communicating with other road users”); urban informatics (“display information quickly when leading a large hike or group tour”); marketing (“spread your company’s logo in an eye-catching visual presentation”); or fashion (“light up the night with your own decorative design for any occasion”).
Myo, developed in Waterloo, Ont., is a gesture-controlled armband that detects electrical activity from muscles, transmitting the information via Bluetooth to interact with other pieces of technology, including TVs, smartphones and tablets.
Kiwi gives its users gesture control capabilities that allows useres to use their hands as a mouse control, synchronised with Windows and Android technology. The technology enables motion recognition between the device and apps.
Muse is a wearable headband that picks up and measures brain activity and provides feedback to a smartphone or tablet through Bluetooth. The tool is described as a “heart-rate monitor for your mind” by its website.
The virtual reality headset provides users with 360 degree head tracking, fully emerging its user within a virtual reality. The company was founded by Palmer Luckey through a successful Kickstarter campaign that went on to raise $2.4 million.