News | Feb 28, 2019

Air Force scientists build app to peak game-day performance

Technology is scalable and available for commercial development

U.S. Air Force Academy's Brady Tomlak controls the puck as he breaks out against Bemidji State on Dec. 29, 2018 at the Cadet Ice Arena. Air Force tied Bemidji 3-3. (Trevor Cokley/Air Force)

The data streaming off your smartwatch can be used for more than displaying snapshots of your heart rate and step count.

A pair of scientists at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio have developed a software app that can use the data to scientifically power a perfect game-day athletic performance.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published the Air Force’s patent application for the performance prediction and optimization app on Thursday, detailing algorithms built by Josh Hagen and Gurte Grewal for the lab’s 711th Human Performance Wing. (Download the full patent below.)

The inventors address several issues with commercially available fitness trackers like the use of unweighted data that is analyzed too broadly or not tailored to a specific sport, lack of instruction on moving a parameter like heart rate from high to normal range without leaving the game, and the absence of team-wide performance analysis and optimization.

“For example, a football team often implements new offensive plays and formations in the week leading up to a particular game based on the particular style of defense of the upcoming opponent,” the patent application states. “Conventionally, the plays are practiced to ‘game speed’ with the team’s offensive players so as to simulate the upcoming game and better prepare the offense as a whole. On the other hand, if certain players are not performing optimally (are injured or sore from a previous game), then the team’s offensive performance may be dictated more by a degree of soreness on game day as compared to the activity level of practice. In such instances, it may be advantageous to lower the practice speed or level to permit the team’s offense to be rested for optimal performance on game day.”

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U.S. Air Force Academy's Falcons quarterback Donald Hammond III attempts a pass during a Mountain West Conference game at Falcon Stadium against the Colorado State University Rams on Nov. 22, 2018. The Falcons defeated the Rams 27-19 in their season finale.

Joshua Armstrong/Air Force

Hagen and Grewal also designed the app to work for individual athletes.

For example, it can be programmed for individual performance parameters and stats from past games and practices. If the athlete is coming up on a singles tennis match, the app would analyze wins versus losses, number of aces, number of unforced errors, and number of sets won.

It also has the ability to include self-analysis from players on how tired or sore they feel, mental fog, and headaches, along with sleep, hydration, and nutrition data, and a coach’s rating on performance.

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T. J. Fumagalli, a freshman, competes in the Air Force Invitational tennis tournament at the U.S. Air Force Academy Outdoor Tennis Courts in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2016.

Bill Evans/Air Force

As Air Force scientists, Hagen and Grewal’s software is assigned to the U.S. government, which makes it available for licensing for commercial purposes. That means innovative businesses or entrepreneurs can offer it as a new product at the intersection of the lucrative wearables and athletic gear markets, where it would be available to professional sports teams and athletes.

Businesses that would like to license the technology from the Air Force must submit a patent license application, which includes a commercialization plan.

TechLink’s staff of certified licensing professionals have been guiding companies through Air Force licensing for 20 years.

Contact TechLink now to learn more about this and thousands of other technologies waiting to become new and improved products sold by innovative businesses.

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