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FC Barcelona and Allianz SE, one of the global leading insurance companies and longtime Global Partner of the Club, will jointly develop innovative projects which will impact on the health and wellbeing of athletes and inturn the wider society. This first project between the Barça Innovation Hub and Allianz SE will analyse the link between sleep quality with physical performance, as well as sports performance.
In this pioneering scientific project, the sleep experience of FC Barcelona athletes will be documented through personalised studies and records - with the objective to measure the possible impact sleep has on their performance and health. The study, which will last approximately six months, will collect qualitative sleep data of 600 young athletes from different sections of the Club. Also, an individualised intense study of 50 of these athletes will be conducted.
The agreement between Barça and Allianz took place with Josep Maria Bartomeu, president of FC Barcelona, Jean-Marc Pailhol, head of global market management and distribution of Allianz SE and Jose Ferre, CEO of Allianz Seguros in Spain.
The importance of sleep
FC Barcelona and Allianz, Official Insurance of FC Barcelona, will lead this investigation alongside Hexoskin, a Canadian startup that specialises in cutting-edge smart technology clothing, and Adsalutem Institute, a Catalan entity specialised in sleep medicine. The project is based on the fact that sleep is essential for health and wellbeing, and has an important impact on healthy physical development, emotional regulation, cognitive performance and quality of life. In addition, sleep has been recognised by athletes and researchers as key to athletic performance. Existing scientific evidence indicates that sleep is an important factor that must be considered in the sports industry. Adsalutem Institute's work thesis, is based on the conviction that improving sleep will improve the overall wellbeing of athletes and their performance on the pitch.
A smart garment
Hexoskin has provided a smart t-shirt which collects data while asleep. This garment continuously monitors heart rate, breathing and movement through built-in sensors, with a small device incorporated into the Hexoskin shirt. This is the only smart garment in the market clinically validated for collecting this type of data. The athletes who will participate in the individualised study will have to wear the t-shirt, for two or three nights. The investigation will also serve to test the revolution that intelligent clothes can provide to health and wellbeing research. Barça's collaboration will help to improve this smart t-shirt.
The information gathered will be processed by doctors at the Adsalutem Institute, and FC Barcelona will provide data on the performance of the analysed athletes to be cross-referenced with those obtained on the quality of their sleep. A study will be shared detailing the conclusions obtained. The Adsalutem Institute has the academic support of the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC) within the framework of the 'Center for Studies of Sleep Medicine', in which both entities collaborate in the scientific and teaching fields.
Connected technologies to decrease health issues
While this first smart tissue research is focused on athlete's sleeping, individual rest and performance levels. The technology used has the potential to be a preventive garment for the population. The biodata from the shirt if shared with a medical backoffice, could hinder heart related diseases as well as respiratory arrest caused by apnea. Such impact is key for Allianz, to keep evolving and bring in new technologies which enhance people’s lives. With this new project, the Barça Innovation Hub once again enables FC Barcelona to be an international reference laboratory where leading edge studies and research take place, contributing to new scientific breakthroughs -in this case in the field of health and wellbeing.
Statements by Josep Maria Bartomeu, President of FC Barcelona
"For Barça Innovation Hub it is a great step forward to launch this project with Allianz Group, a world-renowned strategic partner which is a perfect fit for us. Sleep and good rest are essential to guarantee the well-being and good performance of our athletes. In addition, Adsalutem Institute will also collaborate in this project, and our aim is to transcend the sports field and give more insights for the general public. This initiative embodies Barça Innovation Hub’s vision, being "more than a Club" in global research projects. "
Statements by Jean-Marc Pailhol, Head of Global Market management and Distribution of Allianz SE:
“As one of the largest insurers with over 250 million clients globally, it is our job to protect risk takers. To do this, we need to understand risk – now and in future. Today new technologies are rapidly changing the world like the usage of drones, autonomous vehicles, 3D printers, smart tissues and more. We, as Allianz, want to better understand what is in front of us, the associated risks and get engaged with those who will build and improve the future.
“We need curious partners and are very proud to have one on our side with FC Barcelona and the Innovation Hub. Both of our networks combined have the potential to not only improve the performance of athletes but the health of an entire generation. The smart tissue R&D project and its impact will be a great showcase for the strength of both of our companies working aside.”
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