Sports Hub project changes sports medicine with big data and AI
Sports Hub project changes sports medicine with big data and AI
Interview with Prof. Jarek Krajewski, Institute for Experimental Psychophysiology
Professor Jarek Krajewski sat down for a MEDICA interview and delivered a detailed description of the Sports Hub project. It highlights how big data and AI transform the world of sports medicine. The project delivers new insights and provides a versatile database.
Sports Hub is designed to promote the development of personalized early detection systems or physical activities to prevent chronic diseases.
Prof. Krajewski, what is the objective of this cluster project?
Prof. Jarek Krajewski: The Sports Hub project is essentially a data marketplace. It is a platform that can also be called Sports Space. It is designed to bring sports, fitness and health data of top athletes and recreational athletes together. The primary goal is to build a database that offers benefits for both individuals and industries. Sports data can be collected and merged from different sources to highlight correlations between athletic performance, nutrition, sleep and physical activities.
The project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as a data-driven business model. The biggest challenge lies in motivating top and recreational athletes to store their data in a way that makes it searchable and helpful. In doing so, they provide an interesting data source for future business models and service providers.
Why should athletes make their data available for this project? Krajewski: Data monetization is the incentive to provide data. Nutrition data from an app, combined with data from fitness trackers and GPS motion profiles unlocks an information pool that can be used for these purposes. This may include use in further research activities or to facilitate commercial use in healthcare.
Data monetization is a growing trend in the industry. One example of this is a well-known fitness chain that advertises "no fees" as it is funded by testing new equipment on-site. Sports data is recorded as users test these devices. This is a popular new business model, which we also use in our project.
What new insights were you able to gain?
Krajewski: So far, we were able to get a good market overview and determine the types of wearable technologies that have the right quality to deliver the stats and data we need to meet our objectives. We were also able to identify the types of wearables that are best suited to monitor our targeted phenomena and pinpoint the needs and expectations top and recreational athletes have of this type of database. We are presently in the process of learning about the added benefits the system should deliver to that effect.
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With more collected data, better analysis will be possible.
How are elite and recreational sports linked to the prevention of chronic diseases?
Krajewski: Some causes, correlations and trajectory phases of chronic illnesses are associated with sports. We hope that big data analytics will help us achieve better and more meaningful insights into elite and recreational athletes, which we can subsequently use to promote chronic disease prevention. Our aim is to build background knowledge pertaining to the development, design, and effectiveness of interventions.
Elite Sports can have a great role model effect when it comes to disease prevention. If an athlete like Toni Kroos (German professional footballer) makes his data available, recreational athletes can use these stats as a reference point or to find inspiration and empowerment. Toni Kroos’ data might include his tracked movements, which he has made available to the database. This gives other athletes the chance to train like Toni Kroos.
As generators of big data, what role do wearables play in chronic disease monitoring?
Krajewski: I would like to expand the project scope from wearables to include IoT sensors. When you combine sensors for the Internet of Things with the Nokia Withings smart scale, which is connected to the Digital Sports Hub, you obtain data that serves as a foundation. This allows weight monitoring, for example, while the fitness tracker records movement and activity at the same time. The data that’s being collected by wearables enables an increasingly closer and more accurate monitoring process. If you can identify individual trigger symptoms, you could develop a personalized early warning system to ward off chronic diseases.
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The data gets collected and thus provides a big source of information.
How does AI transform the world of sports?
Krajewski: Mass data opens up new possibilities in training and enables new insights into the AI realm. Information that used to be more generic can now be personalized to develop a regimen that is truly healthy for the individual athlete and delivers tailored training suggestions at the same time.
The next step is to add gamification as an added incentive to embark in physical activity. Think of virtual reality or augmented reality in sports, where activities like biking are integrated into an interesting game.
The field of performance diagnostics will definitely also see some big changes. Mass data will make it possible to assess talent and recognize potential and reduce the risk of injury in better and faster ways.
How do you ensure data protection and cybersecurity in the project?
Krajewski: The project is strongly focused on both decentralized and cryptographic solutions to ensure information security. Simple stress tests are presented as competitions to test whether re-identification is possible. What’s more, there will also be vendor-neutral cloud security certifications.
Yet despite a strong focus on data security, I believe it's crucial to get a fresh look at data. After all, the idea behind the Digital Sports Hub is to have data sovereignty, which means I decide who has access to my data and make a deliberate decision to share it. The data will not always be kept private in the long-term, but will facilitate applications that will benefit me as a user. Once again, this is where data monetization plays a key role.
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