Sport watches are affecting the athletes posture at the finish line.

Many of us use sport watches both during training and racing. The actual use of sport watches might be one of the least understood digital technologies in relation to the vast everyday use. Using a sport watch when participating in a race has several purposes. During the activity such as running, biking or skiing, the sport watch will be used to measure split times, expected finish time, power and heart rate. After the race, the data collected during the race will be used to analyse or relive the event.

The use of sport watches at races has impact beyond the actual data collection. At Ironman triathlon races, the race director inform the athletes at the race briefing (the day before the race) to re-think what they do when crossing the finish-line . At the Ironman Kalmar 2019 race briefing, the race director illustrated how too many athletes have a finish-line posture where they put the right hand over the wrist of the left hand to stop the time on the sport watch. This behaviour would not have been a problem unless that at the same time the photo is taken of the athlete crossing the finish-line. This means that the most emotional and therefore important photo or video from the race, namely when crossing the finish line, faces the risk of documenting an athlete stopping the time on their watch…rather than raising the arms into the air and celebrating the successful end of the race. 

Would it be possible to develop some sort of ”at-the-finish-line”-sensor that automatically handle the task and stop the time of the sport watch. The sport watch induced finish-line posture is seen both among recreational athletes as well as at the elite level. By studying how athletes use and behave around sport watch technology would most likely generate great insights for the product and service development teams at companies such as Garmin, Polar and Suunto.

Reading suggestions:

Arefin Shimon, S. S., Lutton, C., Xu, Z., Morrison-Smith, S., Boucher, C., & Ruiz, J. (2016, May). Exploring non-touchscreen gestures for smartwatches. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 3822-3833).

Heo, S., Annett, M., Lafreniere, B. J., Grossman, T., & Fitzmaurice, G. W. (2017, May). No Need to Stop What You’re Doing: Exploring No-Handed Smartwatch Interaction. In Graphics Interface (pp. 107-114).

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