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Olympic athletes to trade personal data for health gadgets

Olympians participating in the upcoming London Games are exchanging their personal physical data for the latest in health technology, the Financial Times has reported.

Some athletes are using devices that measure their sleep, diet, and training patterns in the run-up to the Games, with health companies hoping to take advantage of athletes’ data to target their gadgets for use in the amateur sports and/or weight loss markets down the road.

“Olympic athletes are on the leading edge of performance. You can expect perfect compliance, which leads to perfect data,” said Ben Rubin, CEO of sleep tracking device producer Zeo. “We seek to understand their sleep first, then trickle those findings down to everyday athletes and ordinary folks.”

For instance, some members of the American track cycling team have signed on to use a combination of devices that includes a glucose monitor, sleep monitor, and genetic report mechanism that focuses on nutrition and muscle capacity.

“It’s all connected,” Sky Christopherson told the newspaper. Christopherson, who serves as a consultant to some of the team’s members, is a founder of Optimized Athlete, a start-up that analyses personal health data patterns.

More specifically, Christopherson uses information about athletes’ behaviour to determine optimal sleep, blood sugar, and exercise levels for the best possible performance in training and, therefore, in competition.

“These are early-phase trials to see how it works,” said Kevin Sayer, president of DexCom, whose glucose monitors are being used by US athletes. “We’re open to learn.”