Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sports Watch Idea

You just finished your race and are exhausted. Staggering to the refreshments table, you grab a bottle of water and a banana in hopes they will speed along your quest to become coherent again. About the time the time your world stops spinning, a friend approaches and asks how you did. You glance down at your watch and realize - dang! - you forgot to press the stop button!

Yes, this is me at the
end of my first half mary.
It was your first half marathon. You trained for weeks, had a great race and are now anxiously waiting for the photos to be posted. The notification e-mail finally hits your inbox and you click through to see yourself in that moment of glory - the finish line photo. You scan the tiny, thumbnail images, see the one with the banner stretched over your head and click to enlarge it. The image that pops up on your screen is a huge disappointment, as you realize your photo was snapped at the precise moment you looked down to turn off your watch. Welcome to the club, we'll have you fitted for a jacket.

As I crossed the finish line timing mat at the Jubilee CityFest 8k yesterday an idea popped in my head that sports watch manufacturers might consider: an automatic stop feature. Though I'm no electronics engineer, it doesn't seem it would be difficult to integrate this into their products if they worked with chip timing system manufacturers. These systems basically consist of a passive chip you wear and a device that activates it. The piece that activates the chip, which is usually a mat you run over at the finish line, does so by emitting a radio frequency. If the watch could detect this signal it could be used to stop the timer, right?

Some chip system makers put
their transponders in arches or towers.
It sounds simple in theory, but I realize some kinks would need to be worked out. For instance, what about devices scattered about the course to record timing splits? Obviously, they would have to operate on a different frequency, so as not to prematurely stop the watch. But even this presents an opportunity! What if your watch could record accurate, certified splits instead of relying on inexact GPS coordinates?

What do you think? Am I off my rocker or have I come up with the next big thing in sports watch technology? I have to think a bigger brain has already thought of the idea. Can you think of other ways to achieve this or expand on the idea? Sound off in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. Not a bad idea. It might as well start it too. As for splits, who is to say the markings on the course are any more accurate than the GPS reading? Not sure there.

    I am pretty much in the habit of stopping mine as I cross the mat. I've even gotten so good at it I learned which of the two buttons to press without looking. :)