Canadian Athletes Will Swallow Computerized Pill to Prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020

Canadian athletes computerized pill

The Canadian team participating in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020 is supposed to prepare for the Games, which is expected to be held in sweltering hot weather, by swallowing a small computerized pill that measures deep body temperature during training and competition.

French company BodyCap, who was among the speakers at the WT Wearable Technologies Conference 2017 in Munich, developed the nonreusable pill, which costs about $70.

The Tokyo Olympic Games will be held from July to August, but in 2018 Japan was hit by a record heat wave, and during the Olympic period the temperature is expected to rise even further.

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Evan Danfee who finished fourth at the 50 km race of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, will test out the technology at the NACAC track and field championships Aug. 10-12 in Toronto, reports CBC.

“We can take someone like Evan, have him swallow the little pill, do a full four-hour workout, and then come back and download the whole thing, so we get from data core temperature every 30 seconds through that whole workout,” said Trent Stellingwerff, a sport scientist who works with Canada’s Olympic athletes.

“The two biggest factors of core temperature are obviously the outdoor humidex, heat and humidity, but also exercise intensity.”

The deep body temperature in humans affects their performance in a competition, but even if the body temperature drops too much or rises too much, it cannot show the best performance. Additionally, deep body temperature is influenced by not only the outside temperature and humidity, but also the intensity of the exercise. The small computerized pill works with a Bluetooth-enabled external receiver, which will allow Stellingwerff to monitor the athlete’s deep body temperature in real time. Even if the athlete goes out of range of the radio waves, data is accumulated in the computer and can be retrieved when the athlete comes in the range of the radio wave.

Canadian athletes computerized pill
Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee, shown dousing himself with water during the 2016 Summer Olympics, will be among a handful of Canadian athletes testing out the new pill at the NACAC track and field championships. (Image: CBC)

Dunfee said the pill will change the way we understand how our body responds to heat. “Swallow a pill, after the race or after the training session, Trent will come up, and just hold the phone to your stomach and download all the information. It’s pretty crazy,” he said.

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Stellingwerff and Dunfee said the pill will enable them to learn what core temperature endurance athletes can race at before their bodies begin to shut down. They can then plan their race pace accordingly.

“It’s: ‘OK, we’ve done the heat profiling on you, so if it’s 40 Celsius and 90 per cent humidity in Tokyo, this is probably the pace you should think about for the first half of the race. If it’s 30 Celsius, OK, we can be a bit more aggressive and you can probably go at this kind of a pace,” Stellingwerff said.

“It’s a bit of science, it’s informed, but it’s still a bit of art.”

The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 24 to August 9, 2020.