How is Science Sculpting the Modern Athlete?

by Jackie Edwards

Sport is big business these days, with the market worth $60.5 million in North America and predicted to rise to $73.5 billion in 2019. Sports is not only a moneymaker for event promoters and the media; it is also increasingly being seen as a top career choice for those with the talent, drive, and commitment required to succeed. New developments in sport have shown that success is not all about the individual athlete. In popular sports like tennis, football, or golf, science & technology are playing an important role in helping competitors perform at their full potential. In this post, we look at just a few ways that science is changing the way we play and compete.

Swing Training Technology for Golf

You would need to be a master physicist to work out the exact angle at which to position your club when playing golf, but science and technology are making it a whole lot easier with swing training technology, which brings real-time body positioning analysis to everyday golfers with the help of a handy app. The app ‘tells’ golfers exactly how to position their body and gives them top information on how to do better next time. Of course, the app won’t fix deeper problems such as weak muscles in the shoulder and back. Top level athletes will also need to regularly carry out specific training programs for golf, which include strength training for key muscle groups. In essence, performing the right swing depends on issues like back strength, so you may need to address this first to perfect your game.

Head and Neck Support for Motor Sports

Dale Earnhardt’s death on the track at the Daytona 500 race revealed the extent to which the head and neck area are vulnerable in motor sports. HANS devices have been created by scientists to stop the head from whipping forwards and backwards in the event of an accident, and to lend more support to the neck. The device is U-shaped and is positioned behind the neck, with two ‘arms’ that extend over the pectorals. Over 140,000 devices have already been sold worldwide.

Wearable Computers and Hawk-Eye Camera Systems

Wearable computers are allowing both players and managers to assess a player’s level of fatigue, hydration levels, etc. This type of information is vital to avoid heart attacks and other major health events from taking place on the field. Smart fabrics will enable athletes to glean even more information, including heart function data and movement of the body’s center of mass. Scientists have stated that the future could take us beyond wearables. The Hawk-Eye camera system is currently used to obtain information on running biomechanics and other metrics during games of elite players. The NBA, meanwhile, relies on Second Spectrum’s computer vision technology to obtain information about player positioning and other 3D data such as ball and referee positioning.

We have presented just a few ways in which science and technology are enabling athletes to perform more optimally, but also to stay safe. Wearable devices and fabrics, aerial camera systems, and new safety gear are making sport a much more scientifically accurate and appealing pursuit. Information is power, and nowhere is this truer than on the field or track.

Health Benefits of Gaming

by Marcus Clarke

Apparently it was the Buddha who first said ‘health is the greatest gift’. He was certainly right. However, he probably never imagined that one of the ways we can receive this ‘greatest gift’ is video games, as much research is now showing that gaming can be extremely good for your health, in a bewildering number of ways.

For example, gaming can increase the strength and size of the brain areas associated with a number of key skills, such as motor skills and spatial awareness. So gaming can actually increase the size of your brain! As well as this, gaming can reduce sensations of pain. Studies on soldiers who had been injured in battle, in which half were asked to play on a virtual reality game and half acted as a control group, found that those who played video games were less likely to need pain meds. Amazing! There’s more! Gaming can slow down cognitive decline in the elderly and those that are suffering from degenerative neurological disorders. As such, gaming in this sense has many public health applications.

Have you recently suffered from some sort of trauma? Fear not. Gaming may be the answer, and research has shown that gaming can minimize the effects of trauma. One study showed, for example, that those who had recently undergone surgery and played video games were likely to recover more quickly. Likewise, those who had undergone traumatic events were likely to have fewer flashbacks and after effects if they played video games.

So, gaming is not just about fun, and vegging out on a weekend after a hard week at work. It can actually have really positive effects, particularly on your cognitive health. Likewise, modern games are increasingly good for your cardio health, as games become more active, and your body becomes the controller.

To find out more about how gaming can be good for your, see the infographic below from Computer Planet.

Continue reading Health Benefits of Gaming

Simple Steps for IIoT Cloud Security

BY MEGAN RAY NICHOLS

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) makes it easier than ever to track and analyze data, integrate multiple different hardware platforms and achieve next-gen connectivity. While it serves as a one-stop shop for many manufacturers, some find it difficult to maintain proper security. Facing threats from all angles, it’s impossible to safeguard your system against every possible cyber-attack. You can, however, take some steps to ensure your initial preparedness and bolster your reaction time in the event of an intrusion.

Monitoring Evolving Industry Standards

Despite its usefulness, the IIoT is anything but standardized. Much of the technology powering the platform is still in its infancy, so the ultimate potential of the IIoT is subject to future breakthroughs and innovations in general IT. This makes it difficult to adopt standards for network security, cloud access and IIoT integration – but that hasn’t stopped some organizations from trying.

Make sure to research the security systems of any cloud services or IIoT devices you incorporate within your company to make sure you receive the quality protection you deserve. Companies tend to use unique strategies to ensure security across their networks, so it’s important to find one that aligns with your needs, requirements and expectations. Although there isn’t a strict protocol for processing and securing such vast amounts of data, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) recently established ISA99 standards for industrial automation and control systems security.

But ISA99 is also a work in progress. A part of the larger IEC 62443 series of regulations and codes, the IEC hopes to usher in a new age of security and efficiency throughout the entire industry.

Establishing Your Own Best Practices

It’s important for manufacturers to develop their own best practices in regards to IIoT technology. Not only does this help you to maintain acceptable standards of data collection, storage and security for the time being, but it also enables you to retain the option of transitioning over to new industry regulations as they develop.

The process of establishing your own best practices for IIoT integration depends on your unique requirements. Will your connected devices communicate via Bluetooth or a cellular connection? Do you have legacy hardware, such as tape backup, which currently holds your company’s critical data? Answering these questions is the first step in creating standards for IIoT integration.

Next, consider how your employees will access the cloud and your IIoT network. The rising popularity of smartphones and mobile devices has prompted some to embrace the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model of connectivity. Others would rather limit access to the desktop computers and workstations around the factory.

Identifying and outlining your exact needs is critical when balancing network accessibility with cloud security, and it makes the process of safeguarding your system as straightforward and simple as can be.

Implementing Security to Protect Your Data

The final step in achieving IIoT cloud security requires you to introduce the systems that will secure your network. Manufacturers use various tools to protect their data, including encryption, file signatures and firewalls.

Keep in mind that you’re protecting your digital assets from external and internal threats. By placing all the focus on counteracting and preventing cyber-attacks, it’s easy to lose track of employees who might have physical access to your IIoT cloud. This is where user access privileges, consistent system administration and strong password requirements are helpful.

Creating a Security Model That is Versatile, Flexible and Scalable

It’s also important to develop a security model that is adaptable to future trends and innovations. Hardware regarded as groundbreaking today will be replaced by newer, upgraded versions within the coming years. Likewise, hackers and cybercriminals are always devising new and innovative ways to access vulnerable systems and take advantage of weaknesses before they’re patched.  It’s a never-ending tug of war that requires a lot of diligence on behalf of your IT team because the success of your company might depend on it.