The Internet of Things for Sport: Factors
Influencing the Intention to use and the
Mediating Role of Trust
Khalid Samhale1 and Richard Ladwein2*
1Professor at the Institute of Sports Science Hassan 1st University of Settat, France
2Professor at School of Management, Université de Lille, France
Submission: March 28, 2023; Published: May 22, 2023
*Corresponding author:Richard Ladwein, Professor at School of Management, Université de Lille ULR LUMEN 4999 104, Avenue du Peuple Belge F-59043 Lille, France
How to cite this article: Khalid S, Richard L. The Internet of Things for Sport: Factors Influencing the Intention to use and the Mediating Role of Trust. J Phy Fit Treatment & Sports. 2023; 10(2): 555783. DOI: 10.19080/JPFMTS.2023.10.555783
The internet of things (IoT) has revolutionized our daily lives. The need for these types of devices for sports is continually increasing as athletes seek to track and develop their personal performances. This study addresses the factors that reinforce the intention to use this technology. It focuses on several key elements such as optimism, perceived usefulness, and provider credibility that help build the athlete’s trust and further attract them to use it. In the literature review, we tried to deal with all the variables mobilized, to build our theoretical model and to put forward the theoretical hypotheses. The empirical analysis was carried out with the help of a questionnaire addressed to the athletes. The results recommend working on the added value of IoT devices, communicating in a transparent and credible way and responding to the specific needs of athletes, especially concerning the security and confidentiality of the personal data collected.
Keywords:Consumer Trust; Perceived Usefulness; Internet of Things; Sports; Use Intention
The internet of things (IoT) is equipped with sensors capable of sending and receiving data via the Internet. It is about making the objects around us full-fledged actors through the interconnection between the Internet and physical environment. This technology represents the future that humanity will have to face and adapt to. The use of IoT devices for sports allows to enlarge Big Data. In this field, the quest to improve performance is a crucial need. The analysis of data collected by IoT devices allows athletes to better understand their performance level and detect opportunities to improve their activity. This new practice leads the user to become a “data scientist” of his own body, he collects and analyzes data to better develop himself. The connected sports market offers several advantages that encourage and attract investors and designers of IoT devices: the target of sportsmen is relatively large with diversified needs, positioning on very profitable sectors such as wellness and health that attract users and generate significant figures.
According to a study conducted by Statista, the number of Internet of Things devices for wellness and sports was expected
to reach 171.2 million units by 2025. The increased use of this technology brings to light very critical issues such as security, confidentiality, and user privacy. For Almutairi et al. , security refers to the obligation to implement a tool to protect the collected information, confidentiality is the obligation of personal data managers not to disclose it, and privacy refers to the user’s right to make decisions regarding the handling of their personal data. According to Al-Fuqaha et al. , security and privacy are prioritized for IoT devices, followed by reliability, availability, scalability, interoperability, performance, and management, these elements need to be addressed effectively by IoT designers to build a comprehensive offering that earns users’ trust.
In France, a study was conducted by IPSOS Mori on behalf of the Internet Society and Consumers International among 1.094 French adults aged 16 to 75. The study shows that 71% of respondents say they are afraid of the way IoT collects their personal data and 84% argue that IoT providers should guarantee data privacy and security. It also suggests that lack of usefulness, security and privacy issues are the main deterrents to buy IoT. Our research agrees with this finding and proposes to analyze
the impact of trust in IoT for sports with the intention to use
this technology in relation to the usefulness of these devices
and providers credibility. Thus, we will present the results of
exploratory research. In the first part, we present a brief review
of the variables that influence the intention to use. The second
part presents the methodology adopted. In the third part, we
empirically analyze our theoretical model. Finally, the last part
presents a discussion of the results and research perspectives.
Several researchers have addressed the impact of openness
and sensitivity to new technologies on perceived usefulness and
adoption. For Mun et al. , optimism promotes the adoption
of new technologies. This individual willingness to learn about
new technologies positively influences the intention to use
such technology . Optimism refers to a positive perception of
technology and a belief that technology enables users to become
more efficient, flexible, and in control of their environment
. Optimism refers to an individual’s belief in achieving the
best results in life. Optimistic people adapt effectively and
make the most of the environmental conditions to achieve
positive outcomes. They focus more on the positive side of new
experiences. In fact, the optimistic person is more likely to accept
and use new technology . He perceives it as useful and easy
to use and gives less importance to the risk of use and possible
adverse outcomes. According to the study by Munger and Loyd
, optimism reinforces positive intentions and promotes the
adoption of computers, which were a new technology at the
time of the study. From the above, we argue that optimism plays
a primary role in technology acceptance, and we advance the
H1a: Optimism about new technologies promotes perceived
H1b: Optimism about new technologies fosters trust in IoT
H1c: Optimism about new technologies promotes credibility of
Perceived usefulness refers to the role of technology in
improving the individual’s performance. It has been treated as
a cognitive belief essential to technological acceptance . It is
a global perception of the benefits that the user plans to obtain
using a new technology. It translates into the role of technology in
improving the individual’s performance. In his TAM model, Davis
 considered that perceived usefulness is a crucial variable that
must be taken into consideration by technology providers to
successfully launch and adopt it. Its major impact on the intention
to use new technologies has been widely confirmed in several
areas such as online shopping , mobile payment services
, instant messaging on the mobile  and by researchers
interested in studying online health communities .
In the field of IoT, perceived usefulness depends on the degree
to which these devices can improve users’ daily lives . This is
a key determinant of the intention to use IoT . According to
a study conducted in the United States by Acquity Group, 36% of
respondents to this survey believe that the negative perception
of IoT usefulness prevents the decision to adopt this technology.
Regarding IoT devices for sports, the perceived usefulness
strongly determines the acceptance decision . This discussion
of perceived usefulness in different contexts leads us to deduce
that this variable is fundamental in the process of IoT acceptance.
Therefore, we advance the following hypotheses:
H2a: Perceived usefulness promotes trust in IoT devices for
H2b: Perceived usefulness drives use intention of IoT devices
Perceived provider credibility
Perceived credibility reflects the individual’s subjective
perception of the trustworthiness, intent, and competence of the
designer, media, and brand. It is not a vendor-specific attribute,
but the result of an assessment made by the individual on the
provider’s image, reputation, and competence through available
information and past experiences . The credibility of the
supplier depends on its experience, its skills in communicating
with consumers. These skills help control the relationship, ensure
the success of the exchange, and reduce the perceived risk of using
the new product or service.
According to Soulard (2015), the credibility of the source
is the set of elements transmitted by the sender that positively
influence the decision of the receiver. For him, a credible source
is persuasive. In the same sense, Clow et al.  consider that
the persuasive force of the message favors the intention of use
on the part of consumers. The credibility of the source plays a
fundamental role, especially in a context marked by the lack of
information and the difficulty of evaluation for decision-making
[18,19]. Gurviez and Korchia  argue that supplier credibility
is one of the fundamental components of consumer trust. As
explained by Bendinelli and Riccio , trust is the result of
the company’s experience, reliability, and intentions. These
two variables are both a belief, an expectation, and a decisiondetermining
feeling especially in risky consumption situations
marked by decisional uncertainty. Based on this discussion, we
put forward the following hypotheses:
H3a: Perceived provider credibility enhances trust in IoT
devices for sport.
H3b: Perceived provider credibility drives the intention to use
IoT devices for sport.
Trust in IoT devices
Trust plays a fundamental role in the exchange process. It
positively influences consumers’ intention to use . The added
value of trust has been widely confirmed in several research
fields such as information systems , economics , social
psychology , and sociology . It has also been the subject of
several studies in marketing [27,28]. In the context of relationship
marketing, trust is widely discussed and analyzed by several
researchers and its importance has been widely confirmed in
different contexts. For some, trust is considered a determining
factor in the success and durability of the relationship between
the customer and the company: [29-32].
For others it is a critical factor in the relationship between the
consumer and the brand . In the context of virtual exchange
relationships, trust reinforces the decision to use. For Siau and
Shen , Van der Heijden et al. , and Li and Yeh , a highly
secure website promotes trust among Internet users and stimulates
usage intention and loyalty. With respect to e-commerce, Suh, and
Han  stated that trust reflects the individual perception of
being able to rely on the promises of the online provider. Online
trust is very sensitive because physical interactions with visitors
are absent. It translates into the use of the website, the disclosure
of personal data or the act of purchasing . Several studies
have shown that trust is a factor that stimulates purchases on
the Internet . It allows to moderate the perceived risk .
Indeed, its absence prevents consumers from proceeding online
and providing their bank card numbers  or even to return to
the site again . We consider that consumers who trust IoT
devices will have a stronger intention to use them. Thus, we state
the following hypothesis:
H4: Trust in IoT devices for sports positively drives use
The intention of use of IoT devices
Intention of use is a fundamental concept in the theory of
consumer behavior. It allows us to predict the consumers’ actions
regarding products or services. For Fishbein and Ajzen , it
is a conative component that plays the role of an intermediary
between attitude and behavior and translates the desire or
the will to act. In the same sense, Davis et al.  argues in the
TAM model of technological acceptance that the intention to
use a system influences its actual use. It represents a motivating
factor for the adoption of a new technology [44,45]. Intention of
use is influenced by several variables related to culture, habit,
aspirations, and previous experiences. According to the theory
of reasoned action, this intention is determined by both personal
values and social norms. In other words, it is defined by personal
attitudes toward expectations and social pressure. Indeed, the
intention of use does not automatically mean action on the part of
the consumer, but the more strongly it is present, the greater the
probability of action. As explained by Terrade et al. , a person
may have a positive attitude toward the objectives pursued, but
at the same time does not intend to act because of the social
influence of his or her entourage or because of a perceived
incapacity (Figure 1).
To analyze optimism about new technologies, we chose the
Parasuraman  scale. For perceived usefulness, Venkatesh, and
Davis  scale and to measure perceived provider credibility, we
adopt the scale developed by Samer (49). Finally, for trust in IoT
devices and intention to use, we adapted the measurement scales
of Gao et al. (50). We asked respondents to report their agreement
on a Likert scale with five modalities ranging from “strongly
disagree” to “strongly agree”. The English measurement scales
were translated into French, discussed with professionals in the
field and researchers specialized in Marketing who are fluent in
English to verify items meaning, and subsequently analyzed on a
test sample to verify the reliability of the selected items.
Target population and questionnaire administration
Depending on the context and resources available, we opted
for data collection via an online questionnaire. This method of
online administration is increasingly popular because it facilitates
the development of interactive graphical presentation and
guarantees the anonymity of respondents . We began our
questionnaire with an introduction that defines IoT devices for
sport. The collection of answers to our questionnaire was done in
three months through groups of sportsmen on Facebook.
Statistical tool for empirical analysis
To analyze our model, we chose the second-order structural
equation method with its Partial Least Square (PLS) algorithm,
which is based on analysis of variance and optimization of the
explanatory power of manifest variables (52). This method
is suitable for complex models with multidimensional latent
variables (Richter et al. 2016). Therefore, it is perfectly suited for
online collection of responses with the various biases that this
process can present.
In the following, we analyze all the results that affirm our
theoretical hypotheses. The evaluation consists of four phases. In
the first one, we examined the demographic profile of respondents.
The next step presents the results of measurement model analysis.
The third step consisted of structural model analysis. The last step
used to be an evaluation of the mediator effect using the macro
process on SPSS . Our questionnaire contains questions about
demographic and social characteristics of the respondents such as
age, gender, and professional categories. The results of descriptive
analysis of the demographic data collected are presented in
(Table 1). According to the data in Table 2, our theoretical model
is validated with all loadings above 0.6 . Then, the composite
reliability and Cronbach’s Alpha are also verified with values
above 0.7. which proves a high level of internal consistency .
Finally, the average variance extracted (AVE) of the model is
validated, with all values above 0.5 [56,55]. These results allow
us to confirm the convergent validity of our model (Table 2).
Discriminant validity is confirmed when the square root of AVE of
each variable is greater than the variation shared with the other
variables in the model . From the results in Table 3, we can
confirm this condition (Table 3). According to the results, our
research model is significant. The intention of use is explained
with an R² value=35% above the minimum threshold of 13% .
To test the theoretical hypotheses, we used the bootstrap analysis
method on Smart Pls (n= 318 and 5000 iterations). According
to the results in Table 4, all hypotheses are validated (Table 4).
Validation of the mediator effect of trust in IoT In the following, we
test the mediating role of trust in IoT for sport in the relationship
between optimism, perceived usefulness, and perceived provider
credibility, on the one hand, and use intention on the other.
We use the macro process on SPSS and proceed to run the
Bootstrap technique as a first step. We evaluate the indirect
relationship between optimism and intention of use. According to
the results in Table 5, the relationship is significant with a p<0.001
 (Table 5). We subsequently calculate the confidence interval
for the mediating role of trust. According to the results in Table 6,
both bounds of the interval are greater than zero, so trust in IoT
for sport is a mediating variable in this relationship  (Table
6). According to the results in Table 7, the indirect relationship
between perceived usefulness and intention of use is significant
with a p<0.001  (Table 7). Next, we calculate the confidence
interval for the mediating role of trust in this relationship.
According to the results in Table 8, both bounds of the interval are
greater than zero, providing evidence that trust in IoT for sport is a
mediating variable in this relationship  (Table 8). According to
the results in Table 9, the indirect relationship between perceived
provider credibility and intention of use is significant with a
p<0.001  (Table 9). We calculate the confidence interval for
the mediating role of trust in this relationship. According to the
results in Table 10, both bounds of the interval are greater than
zero, providing evidence that trust in IoT for sport is a mediating
variable  (Table 10).
The results of the present research proved that optimism,
perceived usefulness, and perceived provider credibility strongly
influence the intention to use IoT devices for sport. This is in line
with several research studies that focus on the adoption of new
technologies such as the TAM model . Optimism about new
technologies is reflected in a positive view toward technology and
the perception that it offers more flexibility and efficiency . It
is a positive feeling that allows the consumer to interact in good
faith with the designers and reinforces trust. Our study sheds
light on the fundamental role of trust as a factor in enhancing the
intention to use IoT devices for sport. It mediates the relationship
between optimism, perceived usefulness, and perceived provider
credibility, on the one hand, and usage intention on the other. This
result shows that trust in the technology promotes the perceived
usefulness and the provider credibility in a way that promotes
the intention of use. The IoT providers must take care of their
image, react in a credible and transparent way with consumers
and invest in R&D to offer useful functionalities that promote trust
and minimize the perception of fears related to the use of this new
Theoretical and Managerial Contributions
The present study allows us to advance several theoretical and
managerial contributions. The results presented above prove the
influence of optimism and perceived usefulness on the intention
to use IoT where the personal data collected are sensitive. As
it is a relatively new technology, it requires designers to listen
to the market and communicate with users to gain their trust.
In this sense, it seems important to ensure the security of data
collected. Designers must take their time to test the object and
make sure of its security level before launching it on the market.
Therefore, it seems necessary to invest in cybersecurity research
and introduce blockchain technology [60-62]. We addressed the
mediating role of trust in IoT devices in the relationship between
optimism, perceived usefulness, provider credibility, on the one
hand, and intention of use on the other. This result is explained by
the fact that the individual will have a strong intention to use IoT
devices for sport if he is optimistic, perceives the usefulness of the
technology and the credibility of its provider.
All these feelings reinforce trust in IoT. She perceives herself
capable of benefiting from the use of this technology without
major risk to her privacy and personal data. At this level, we
believe that the design of IoT devices for sport is a crucial phase.
Designers must give more importance to the usefulness and added
value of this technology to try to change the image of the “gadget
object” installed in the minds of athletes regarding IoT devices.
Furthermore, we recommend that designers focus on developing
the added value of existing devices rather than always trying to
launch new ones. The present research deals with the determining
factors of the intention to use IoT devices for sport with a sample
of sportsmen and women who use this technology. It allows us
to better understand this target group, to see how they perceive
this technology and how they decide to adopt it. It considers the
specificities of sport, the objectives and motivations of use and the
nature and sensitivity of personal data collected. To the best of our
knowledge, this research is the first to investigate the mediating
effect of trust in the relationships between optimism, perceived
usefulness, and perceived provider credibility, on the one hand,
and the intention to use the IoT for sports on the other.
The objective of this study was to analyze the relationship
between the individual and the technology and to determine
the factors that influence the intention to use IoT devices for
sport. It allows to generate recommendations to the designers
of this technology to strengthen and succeed the relationship
with potential users. More clearly, the aim is to identify the
major factors that promote trust and reinforce the intention to
use this technology. It focused on the primary and mediating
role of trust in the relationship between perceived usefulness,
provider credibility, and intention of use. Our research therefore
recommends that companies prioritize gaining users’ trust and
fostering their perceived usefulness to encourage them to use this
The designers of IoT devices must focus on functional
compatibility and think of the connected object in an ecosystem,
to facilitate communication between the different existing
objects. Today, IoT devices for sport do not allow synchronizing
data between objects of different brands. In this sense, it seems
necessary to us to set up a unified system to allow connectivity
between the various objects, which requires serious involvement
of the various actors on the market.
The present research is not free of limitations leading to new
avenues of research. First, it is an exploratory study that aims to
analyze the determining factors of the intention to use IoT devices
for sport without distinguishing between brands or functionalities,
which does not allow us to verify the impact of these elements
(purpose of use, sensitivity of data collected and others) on our
group of respondents who use different IoT devices. Moreover,
our study did not consider the impact of gender and age on the
variables of our theoretical model. It seems useful to us to enrich
this model by adding socio-demographic variables and to test it in
a different cultural context.
Appendix - Scales of Measurement
Optimism about new technologies 
OP1– « Technology gives people more control over their daily lives ».
OP2– « Products and services with newest technologies are much more convenient to use ».
OP3– « You prefer to use the most advanced technology available ».
OP4– « Technology makes you more efficient in your occupation ».
OP5– « You find new technologies to be mentally stimulating ».
Perceived Usefulness [8,48]
UP1 – « Using IoT devices for sport saves me time ».
UP2 – « Using IoT devices for sport improves my performance ».
UP3 – « Using IoT devices for sport increases my productivity ».
UP4 – « Using IoT devices for sport enhances my effectiveness ».
UP5 – « I find IoT devices for sport to be useful in my life ».
IoT provider credibility 
CR1– « I think IoT devices for sport available in the market can be trusted ».
CR2– « The companies that have made this choice control this activity well ».
CR3– « Information provided by IoT providers are sincere ».
CR4– « I do not doubt the intention of IoT providers ».
CR5– « IoT providers do not lack professionalism ».
The trust in the internet of things 
I could use the IoT for sport...
CONF 1 – « If I have a clear conception of the functionality ».
CONF 2 – « If the IoT provider is widely acknowledged ».
CONF 3 – « If IoT devices protect the privacy of its users ».
CONF 4 – « If I feel confident that I can keep it under control ».
CONF 5 – « If I feel confident that the data collected is reliable ».
CONF 6 – « If I believe it is risk-free to use it ».
CONF 7 – « If it is safe to use it ».
CONF 8 – « If it is useful ».
Intention of use 
IU1– « Assuming I have IoT device for sport, I intend to use it ».
IU2– « Given that I have IoT device for sport, I predict that I would use it ».
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