Sports Tech

Biometrics power Volvo Ocean Race team

December 11th, 2017
Team AkzoNobel has partnered with SAP aimed at helping the sailors to optimize their performance using IoT provided by the SAP Leonardo IoT Edge technology to track their fitness levels and degree of exhaustion during racing.
team AkzoNobel

How do you gain a competitive advantage in one of the world’s toughest ocean races when every team uses the same race yacht? While information relating to weather and other conditions is useful, for most teams the advantage stems from improving team performance.

Team AkzoNobel has partnered with SAP as part of an innovation project aimed at helping the sailors to optimize their performance. Using the edge computing for the Internet of Things (IoT) provided by the SAP Leonardo IoT Edge technology, the research project enables team AkzoNobel to track the sailors’ fitness levels and degree of exhaustion during racing. Fully approved by the race organizers and available to all competing teams, the innovative system is being used for the first time in professional sailing.

“So far, aspects like the weather and the ideal route used to be the main focus areas. The technology provided by SAP gives us a tool that helps us to get the best performance from the crew,” said Simeon Tienpont, team AkzoNobel’s skipper. “These technological innovations will help push the boundaries of our sport and can finally make the difference.”

As physical and mental exhaustion pose the biggest threats to crews during the eight-month race, SAP has equipped all nine crew members of team AkzoNobel with sensors to capture biometric data. Worn at all times during the race, the data collected by the sensors provides valuable insights into aspects like fatigue, exhaustion, reaction to weather conditions, and stress levels. In addition, the biometric edge solution – which has access to the same information that the navigator has on board the Volvo Ocean 65 race boat – helps to interpret the biometric measurement data.

Biometric data can be collected and analysed by the crew on board during the entire race to give team AkzoNobel unprecedented insight into the crew’s fitness and recovery data. The output is presented in a specifically designed user interface for the skipper.

A part of the SAP Leonardo digital innovation system, SAP Leonardo IoT Edge is being used to capture the biometric data of the crew at sea. IoT-edge computing describes the capability of processing, storing and analysing sensor data without an Internet or other data connection. Once the boats arrive at each of the 12 stopovers, predictive and machine learning analytics are run on SAP Cloud Platform using SAP Leonardo IoT Foundation. Based on the data collected at sea, the predictive analytics results provided to the crew supports team AkzoNobel’s skipper’s preparation for the next leg of the race.

According to Adriana Marais, Head of Innovation at SAP Africa, exponential technologies such as IoT and predictive analytics can add value to nearly every industry when integrated with the cloud-based digital innovation system SAP Leonardo. “Biometric data is transforming the way we do things, from the world of international yacht racing, to the remote delivery of healthcare services in rural areas, to monitoring the health of astronauts in the International Space Station. This project shows how data acquired by connected sensors, coupled with machine learning and predictive analytics, can enable even the largely analogue world of international yacht racing to run digital. At SAP we are passionate about making people’s lives better, and our technology enables improved insights from the acquisition and analytics of data that can enhance performance, or even boost longevity.”

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