Entrepreneurs love to golf. Some even engage in a competitive golf tournament. Just like what the do for their businesses, they always look for ways to perfect their golf game – starting from their swing. They do it by adopting tech advances, in this case, IoT. Read on to learn more on how IoT changes everything in sports, business and any other aspects of our life, really.
Could your golf gloves or smartwatch teach you how to make the perfect golf swing? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think. In fact, some “Internet-of-Things” (IoT) devices are already enabling golfers and other sports enthusiasts to improve their performance. Equipped with sensors, many IoT gadgets and sports wearables are allowing athletes to fine-tune various parts of their game. It hints at the future where IoT wearables will be the norm.
As mobile processors have continued to shrink and the Internet continues to expand, an increasing number of devices are being plugged into the web. It has given rise to the IoT development, which refers to the growing “web” of interconnected physical devices. Consider that twenty years ago only computers and a few other tools were connected to the Internet. Now, an increasing number of devices are being plugged into it.
Phones, cars, thermostats, watches, even “dumber” appliances, like toasters, are being connected. By 2020, there will be approximately 3.4 connected devices per person. By 2030, IoT could add more than $14 trillion to the global economy. Retail, b2b, and other sectors will be disrupted.
Among the most popular IoT devices, there are wearables, such as a smartwatch. With a wearable, you can slip the device on and be connected to the Internet. A simple smartwatch might alert you to text messages or emails, or measure how many steps you take in a given day. However, as processors and sensors continue to advance, wearable devices are becoming more powerful and versatile.
The IDC estimates that 125.5 million wearable devices were shipped in 2017. By 2021, roughly 240 million units will be shipped. Currently, we’re in the “second” generation of wearables. Over the next few years, “third-generation” wearables will hit the market. These devices are going to offer expanded features that some experts believe will make current wearables look “quaint.”
Sports wearables are already a hit
One of the fastest growing wearable segments is sports wearables. Most consumers are already familiar with Fitbits, the Apple Watch, and other similar wearable devices. Adidas, for example, uses its MiCoach to track distance jogged, heart rate, and other measurements. These devices are popular because they add value to athletes and can produce tangible and often quick results. Given how driven many athletes are, the extra help provided has been well-received.
More recent developments are expanding the use cases for wearables and the IoT, and their application to sports. Smart wearables may turn out to be real game changers for the athletically inclined. A lot of consumers dream of making that last game-winning shot in their rec basketball or soccer leagues, or likewise coming in under par at the local golf course. Developing a high level of skill in any sport can be exceptionally difficult.
Sure, some people are born-naturals, but for most people, crafting skills take years of practice and effort. Even then, it can be difficult to reach your aspirations. They call American football a game of inches, but in truth, most sports are games of millimeters. Tiny differences in the way our hands are positioned or our joints move can be the difference between an accurate throw (or kick, shot, etc.) and one that’s wildly off. IoT devices may be able to help athletes win the “game of millimeters” and to improve their skills drastically.
Using IoT and wearables to perfect your golf game
Consider golfing. Anyone who’s tried to perfect their golf swing already knows that it’s hard work. Finding consistency is especially difficult. Sure, you might hit that fantastic 300-yard drive down the middle of the fairway. Then you walk or ride down to your ball, grab iron or wood, square up your feet, shoulders, elbows, and swing just as you had before. Should be rinse and repeat, right? Far too often, the average golfer will end up shanking the shot, or hooking or slicing it off the fairway.
For many golfers, hooks, slices, and shanks are a fact of life. Officially, the United States Golf Association admits, the average golfer is a “bogey” golfer. It refers to someone who shoots one over par per hole, or 18 for a full round of golf. However, the reality of the links is often much worse. Many golfers suffer from handicaps in excess of +30 strokes.
You can head to the driving range and hit a thousand golf balls a day for a month. You can hire a former PGA tour member to go over how your elbows are bent, feet planted, and of course, the swing itself. Perhaps you’ll dig up some YouTube videos showing the perfect swing, but comparing that swing to yours isn’t easy. After all your effort, your golf swing may improve. Or perhaps it won’t.
When it comes to your golf swing, even the slightest difference in arm movements, the way you plant your feet, grip the club or hold your shoulders can result in dramatic differences. For the person swinging the club, even noticing these slight differences is an immense challenge. A skilled observer may notice them, but that’s assuming you can afford to pay for a professional trainer.
Smart devices, however, are now making it possible for golfers to analyze their swings and to receive custom-tailored feedback. Gloves can be equipped with minuscule sensors with integrated sensors. These sensors can then be used to analyze grip and hand placement. The SensoGlove, for example, can monitor your grip throughout the swing and then display feedback. The glove comes with an LCD screen and can compare pressure profiles.
Smartwatches, such as the Approach S6, can be worn around the wrist and measure your swing. The speed of your hands and the strength at which you hit the ball can be calculated. Some smartwatches even enable tempo training and teach you to time your golf swing just right.
The Zepp Golf sensor can be worn on your glove. Besides measuring the speed and power of your swing, this sensor can also measure hip rotation, the swing plane, and backswing position. In other words, the sensor can deliver a customized tutoring experience akin to a professional golf coach.
Other GPS-enabled smartwatches provide golfers with “caddy” advice, such as distance to the green, where sand traps are, and which club might work best in a given situation. It can be difficult for golfers to determine these factors, especially if they are unfamiliar with the course. Some golfers hire caddies who are familiar with the local course, but that gets expensive. Now, a golfer can just slip on a smartwatch.
Are the IoT and smartwatches the future of golf?
Golf is one of the oldest sports still played today. As far back as 1457, the Scottish parliament banned golf because it was causing a decline in archery skills (which were essential for war). Back then, tree branches were used as golf clubs, and the balls had feathers on them.
Indeed, traditional golf technology has improved tremendously over the years. Titanium and composite materials are now used to create extremely strong club heads. Graphite has replaced tree branches as the shaft of choice. Using immensely strong thermoplastics, new golf balls have more in common with space shuttles than birds.
Still, as much as traditional golf technology has evolved, the Internet-of-Things and wearable tech might turn out to be even more revolutionary for amateur golfers. Getting your golf stroke just right, developing the perfect grip, and making the right call on which club to use can all be exceptionally difficult, especially for beginners. Smart devices will reduce that burden.
In the years ahead, smart devices could lead to dramatic improvements as more golfers receive the custom-tailored feedback and training needed to improve their golf swing and consistency. The USGA has already found handicaps (the number of swings above par) to be steadily declining as players have bought better equipment and trained harder. As smart devices proliferate in golf, handicaps may decrease while general skill levels will rise.
IoT is about a lot more than improving golf swings
Improvements in sensors, embedded processors, and other factors are allowing for the rapid growth of the Internet-of-Things. Golf training wearables are a fun example, but the potential for the ever-growing IoT goes well beyond golf and sports in general. By 2021, the sports wearables market alone is expected to hit roughly $14.9 billion.
Wearables will undoubtedly play a significant role in the future, but the growth of IoT won’t be limited to them. In the not-so-distant future, connected devices may be the norm, and even most “dumb devices” may be part of the Internet-of-Things. Imagine a refrigerator that could automatically scan your food and let you know that the milk is running low, or that you don’t have the cream cheese you need to make that cheesecake. How about security cameras that can not only record ongoing activities but analyze them to discover threats? Such concepts are already making their way to the market.
IoT is going to have a dramatic impact on consumers and businesses alike. For the economy, the proliferation of IoT will be immense. It means companies big and small will feel the seismic shifts. In 2016, consumer spending on IoT weighed in at just over $532 billion. By 2021, spending is projected to reach nearly $1.5 trillion. The business sector, meanwhile, spent almost $850 billion on IoT in 2016. In-sector growth will be a bit slower than the consumer sector but is projected to exceed $1.3 trillion by 2021.
For people on the ground, we’ll likely feel the impact of IoT proliferation through improved golf swings, home appliances that can be controlled even when we are away from home, and smartphones that will soon be as powerful as full-fledged PCs. Consumers will enjoy countless other luxuries as well, including gadgets and concepts that no one has even thought of yet.
For businesses, IoT is the future. Whether a business owner wants to sell golf gloves equipped with sensors, or only wants to ensure that their brick-and-mortar restaurant is taking advantage of every opportunity, the Internet-of-Things will be essential. Proactive companies are going to find and tap into opportunities. Reactive companies risk falling behind as competitors get the leg up.