Brazil—known for the Amazon River basin, the Samba, Bossa Nova music, picturesque beaches, and coffee. Oh, and die-hard sports fans who love a great story. Enter the Brazilian Canoe Federation (CBCa), who partnered with GE to help improve athletic performance.

In 2015, GE partnered with the CBCa to develop an app to digitize what had been a slow, manual process for tracking and fine-tuning athletic performance. GE is well versed in the area of big data analytics, having built Predix—a cloud-based platform-as-a-service—to capture and analyze vast volumes of data that helps companies improve machine performance. It applied this same knowledge in working with the Brazilian canoeing team to create an app that would provide real-time insights into athletic performance.

GE Digital spoke with Ken Herd, General Manager, Brazil Technologyand Marcelo Blois, Center of Excellence Leader - Software & Analytics, GE Brazil to hear more about the partnership between GE and CBCa to use technology to change how coaches coach and athletes train.

GE Digital: Why did GE and the Brazilian Canoe Federation (CBCa) decide to partner?

Ken Herd and Marcel Blois, GE Brazil:Building on GE’s expertise in big data analytics for industrial companies, we partnered with the CBCa to bring GE technology inside the team canoes. GE teamed up with the canoeing team to install sensors in the canoes to collect data and measure both the performance of athletes and the canoes themselves during training sessions. Using big data, we wanted to see how we could help athletes improve their technique and physical performances a year prior the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Brazilian Canoe Team

GE Digital: Tell us what you connected and how it worked?

Ken Herd and Marcel Blois, GE Brazil:The data collection and analysis work started with a system containing sensors for an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and GPS—all of it used to measure the frequency and intensity of the rowing, and also to detect the location, speed, and direction of the canoe.  The athletes also used a heart rate monitor that sends the information via Bluetooth to the sensors placed in the boat.

Together this information was used to help the athletes adjust their performance in real-time by responding to the information gathered during training.

GE Digital: What were some of the surprises the team found using this app during training?

Ken Herd and Marcel Blois, GE Brazil: The big surprise was the speed in which they could get data and make performance enhancements. Until our partnership with CBCa, the coaching staff was using manual processes to record and adjust training. Coaches would use a chronometer to track performance, using pen and paper to take notes. When the teams would come in from training, that information would be put into a spreadsheet to be analyzed.

With the jointly created app, sensors sent data to a cloud analytics app and fed it back to coaches to the tablet on the boat, allowing them to provide real-time adjustments to the athletes. These insights are now stored in the cloud and can be used for future athletes as part of their training, allowing coaches to compare performance patterns of top athletes.

GE Digital: Now that the Olympics are over, and with a successful performance by the Brazilian canoeing team, are there plans for the CBCa to use this app in the future as part of its training practice?

Ken Herd and Marcel Blois, GE Brazil: This app is changing the way coaches think about training. The team sees the value of this app and its benefits to improve performance of the team. As such, we have recently signed an extended sponsorship with the CBCa for the next couple of years.

GE Digital: As a sponsor of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and Brazilian Canoe Team, what did it mean for you when Isaquias Queiroz won three Olympic canoeing medals? How would you describe that feeling among Brazilians? 

Ken Herd and Marcel Blois, GE Brazil: His story is so dramatic, which makes his success that much more meaningful to this country. The final races were packed with Brazilian fans. There was a lot of pride as they saw history being made. But as a sponsor, it was also very special for GE. Isaquias and Erlon are a young team that joined together about a year ago. They have a bright future.

To read more, check out their story here

Brazil—known for the Amazon River basin, the Samba, Bossa Nova music, picturesque beaches, and coffee. Oh, and die-hard sports fans who love a great story. Enter the Brazilian Canoe Federation (CBCa), who partnered with GE to help improve athletic performance.

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GE Digital

Driving Digital Transformation

GE Digital connects streams of machine data to powerful analytics and people, providing industrial companies with valuable insights to manage assets and operations more efficiently. World-class talent and software capabilities help drive digital industrial transformation for big gains in productivity, availability and longevity. We do this by leveraging Predix, our cloud-based operating system, purpose built for the unique needs of industry.

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