Everyone knows at in sports, the more exhausted an athlete becomes, the greater is his or her chances of sustaining injury. This problem can be especially serious for pitchers in baseball. Now a team of engineering students at Northeastern University have come up with a sensor embedded shirt that can monitor an athlete’s fatigue in real time, possibly predicting when injuries are likely to occur.
The smart shirt is essentially Under Armor fitted with sensors and a grid of conductive thread. When connected to a PC (currently a hardwire connection, soon to be wireless), the shirt can data-log every pitch thrown in a game.
Consider this: A tear in the labrum, or the ring of cartilage that cushions the shoulder socket from kinetic forces, can ruin a pitcher’s career. It’s also a common occupational hazard, resulting in upwards of $54 million in salary losses each year. The e-textile garment, which the students say can be made for under $200, makes it easier to pinpoint the precise moment a pitcher’s mechanics begin to falter.
“No single device for measuring the quality of pitching mechanics currently exists,” says Marcus Moche, one of the designers. “So we have proposed a shirt that is lightweight and can be worn during bullpen sessions or exhibition games.”
And with so many billions of dollars invested in the pro sports industry, it’s not hard to imagine a time, quite soon, when every athlete will be monitored and optimized for performance during a game.