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Intel Curie: How Sensor-Based Module is Helping Us Be Better Athletes

May 6, 2017

One can be sure that in just a decade or so, the year of 2016 will be known, in hindsight, as the 1st year of “Digitization of Sports” era. On the 6th of January, 2016, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich officially presented their cutting-edge Intel Curie technology and announced company's new sports strategy. It was a clear message: “We're here to change the principles of modern sports”.

Very Curieus Year

It all started with Curie. Not Marie Curie, but with Intel Curie innovative module.

It consists of:

According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Curie was designed for wearables and active sports industry — “to digitize and revolutionize the world of sports” and “deliver wearables in bigger range of ways”.

“With Curie, we believe we created what’s going to change the world of sports. It’s the start of a dramatic revolution in sports”

Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO

Being attached to the sports apparel, equipment or body of an athlete, the sensor-based module collects the profound data on sports performance, such as motion patterns, intensity, speed etc. and sends it via Bluetooth to the application, synced with Curie. Basic motion parameters differ for, say, golf and snowboarding, but Curie is able to track even the most specific of them – from jump height and landing g-forces to golf swing speed and body rotation. In June, 2016, the technology was officially tested at X-Games Austin and Red Bull X-Fighters. Let’s have a closer look at the latter event — to learn how Intel Curie actually performs in the field conditions.

Madrid, Las Ventas bullring. The biggest Xtreme sports contest in the world. Two matchbox-sized modules, powered by Intel Curie chip, were attached to each rider’s BMX bike and helmet — to track their movements and measure parameters of the tricks made — takeoff speed, hang time etc.

These modules were capturing real-time data and transferring it via Bluetooth to the 16 receivers, called anchors and powered by Intel Edison, placed throughout the arena.The anchors determined the location of each Curie-powered module in three-dimensional space and then redirected that information to a central Intel NUC server.

Server compiled the data back together and pushed it through complex algorithms, analyzing motion and recognizing tricks.

At the same time, the second computer was creating the graphics — and in just a fraction of a second viewers and live audience were able to see all the information on the screens, as data overlays and on-screen graphics.

No delays or post-processing — famous FMX rider Nick Franklin was still in the air, finishing an astonishing 360-backflip, when all the key figures of his performance appeared on the screen. To make the data traverse this multistep system so fast, that viewers don't notice any delay, is a challenging process. It requires a huge amount of sensor data and computer resources.

“Every aspect of sports and wellness can now be captured as a piece of data, measured and broadcast nearly in real time — fueling the continued buildout of the cloud”

Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO

Intel Curie module creates the presence effect for the viewer — especially, if implemented along with Intel Replay and Intel Voke VR Technologies. Due to that we can better understand what athletes experience, while making their outstanding feats. We, in some way, can put ourselves in their shoes.

Curie’s application isn’t limited only to making viewers’ life better. By means of this technology, athletes and their coaches can monitor the athletic performance accurately and minutely. All you need for the effective training session analysis is the Intel Curie module and the application, synced with it. The app interprets data from Curie's sensors, calculates your movements and recognizes your motion patterns. Then the machine learning comes in — the app compares your recent motion pattern to all the previous training sessions and/or to “close-to-ideal” examples, pre-recorded by the famous athletes. You see the strong and weak points of your performance and get well-founded piece of advice on how to improve it. The app is also able to create video files, featuring specific diagrams and data overlays, generated for the post-training analysis.

“This new technology is going to blow the world away. Data from the Curie module helps me inform the training”

Kyle Baldock, X Games Gold Medalist

According to Intel's new sports strategy, they're going to revolutionize the sports and fitness industries in terms of broadcasting technologies, stadium shows, training approaches and athletes’ performances. Millimeter-scale computing, virtual and augmented reality, IOT, advanced big data processing, machine learning, real-time 3D modeling — these technologies are intended to change both viewers and athletes experience drastically in the next few years. And it all started with Curie.

P.S. To watch the full videos from the event — follow these links:

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