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Sports

Interfacing real world ball skills with the computer game

August 21, 2006 The Computer Human Interface (CHI) comes in many different guises, and has come a long way since we punched holes in cards with paperclips. Indeed, games appear to be the key laboratory for the CHI as we continually see new ways of getting real world and virtual world to mix in a computer game. In recent times we’ve seen such interesting game interfaces as the Bodypad, Xboard, Entertaible,, the mental typrewriter, and the Virtusphere and now we’re really impressed with ICE’s Striker Pro which is a soccer striking game where the player takes a penalty kick at a success goal – just the World Cup was decided. The machine records the speed and angle of the soccer ball after it is kicked and reads the information into the game in real time so a virtual ball is kicked into the game with the same power and trajectory for an incredibly realistic experience, complete with goalie histrionics, umpires call and crowd feedback. The machine retails for US$11,000 and the level of difficulty can be adjusted from two year old all the way to world cup professional. Now the technology used to create the Striker Pro is being adapted to other sports and the developers of the Striker Pro, eballgames is seeking distribution partners wishing to develop games for other football codes, golf, baseball, hockey, tennis or any other sport. “We have been getting it all working just right for the last few years and we now know we can build the interface and the software for any sport, and deliver 100 machines on time, so now we are seeking people to work with around the world,” said eballgames founder Tony Course.  Read More

From the Trikke to the Skki - product extension of the year

July 18, 2006 Our prize for the best product extension of the year goes to the company that designs and manufactures the three-wheeled cambering Trikke and has now developed a new snow sport from the design and named it Skki. The Trikke is an ingenious human-powered machine that is both chainless and pedal-less. The rider propels the Trikke by slaloming in a graceful, non-impactful fashion, working the torso and arms as well as the legs to generate speeds akin to that of a mountain bike. The best part of the Trikke is the downhill cornering, where the cambering gives it a carving feel akin to that of a racing motorcycle. The Skki is not a logical product extension until you see it, as it offers an identical steering and riding motion that’s just perfect for the snow. There’s some big advantages too – it’s easier to learn than skiing or snowboarding because there’s a set of handlebars for turning, can be done in any comfortable snowboot and hence doesn’t involve any ski-boot pain, it’s 1000 percent less likely to cause a knee reconstruction, and it lacks for nothing in terms of thrills, spills and fun because you can be carving like a pro inside a few minutes! Most importantly, experienced skiers love it too as it’s an entirely new form of snow thrill. Check out the extensive image library.  Read More

Wrist-Mounted Oximetry System

June 30, 2006 As biosensor technologies evolve and miniaturise, we’re likely to be able to monitor in real time a myriad of aspects of the human condition and learn more about our physiology than ever before. A perfect example of this is a new wrist-mounted oximetry system designed to monitor the vital signs of people experiencing sleep disorder symptoms, such as sleep apnea which afflicts millions. Characterized by repeated breathing interruptions in which the brain arouses the person to resume breathing, people with sleep disorder symptoms are typically referred to sleep clinics where their sleep is monitored overnight. The PulseOx 7500 enables home screening of sleep-related symptoms such as oxygen saturation and heart rate. The wrist-mounted monitor collects data while the wearer sleeps and the data can be downloaded for analysis via the sleep apnea reporting software supplied with each unit.  Read More

Quinspin unravelling the mysteries of soccer striking skills

June 24, 2006 The collection of key data with which sportspersons can improve their skills is still in its very infancy. Heart rates, recovery times and sprint times are measurements of fitness but are only one layer of the data and don’t reflect the magical skills which define champions. The time is fast approaching when we will be able to measure exactly how much David Beckham can bend the flight of a soccer ball, how much Roger Federer can make a tennis ball drop with spin or how Shane Warne varies the flight and turn of a cricket ball. Champions have the ability to flight a ball, to make it spin, curve and dip at will, and these things are hard to see, much harder to measure and infinitely harder to teach . The advent of Hawkeye is beginning to shed light on the mysteries of tennis and cricket upon which the former player experts were once the only available diviners of wisdom, but until Quinspoin, there has been no equivalent for the World Game – soccer! After years researching the dynamic testing of footballs including first-hand experience working with adidas to test +Teamgeist the official 2006 FIFA World Cup match ball, Loughborough University expert Paul Neilson is part of the team of inventors at Sports Dynamics that has developed the world’s first coaching tool to objectively measure the killer skill of the perfect strike.  Read More

GPS golfing device tells you how far it is to the green

June 5, 2006 It’s only a game, but we’ve mentioned before the amount of attention that golf gets from inventors and entrepreneurs. In the last few years we've written about a Golf robot designed to help everyone feel the perfect swing, an ingenious wireless motion capture system designed to provide detailed remedial assistance for your swing, a new technology from Yale which enables you to hear your golf swing and numerous golf simulators (here, here, here and here) so you can practice all day long. We've reported on an electronic golf ball finder, a golf ball finding system and a pair of golf ball finding glasses. Just recently we've even covered a solar-powered Golf Bag and Bushnell's Yardage Pro Range Finder. Now there’s a new US$400 handheld golf course measuring device that's designed to answer the age-old question: “How far is it to the green?” It shows distance from the tee (or wherever else you are on the course) to the front, center and back of the green, together with up to fifteen hazards. Courses are available for downloading from the web or players can map courses themselves using the device.  Read More

Nike+iPod

May 24, 2006 Nike and Apple have announced a partnership designed to bring the worlds of sport and music together with the launch of innovative Nike+iPod products. The first product developed through this partnership is the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, a wireless system that allows Nike+ footwear to record time, distance, calories burned and pace with info displayed on the iPod nano screen and real-time audio feedback through headphones. The new Nike+ Air Zoom Moire is the first footwear designed to talk to the iPod and Nike plans to make its other footwear styles Nike+ ready too. It’s simple and in our opinion gives you scant info you can’t get better another way – it’s just an in-shoe sensor and a receiver that attaches to the iPod. While we think the first product is a bit lame, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when Apple, the most consistently innovative company of the last 25 years, and Nike combine technologies with the reach of both companies. With two such innovative parents, we suspect some interesting children will be spawned. Our educated guesses at what they would logically be evaluating as potential products might include new capabilities such as a heart rate monitor to make the 24 hour a day calorie counter more accurate and to enable other useful data to be monitored, GPS functionality for additional info on position and speed and so we can be notified when we’re passing points of interest and hear a podcast about them should we choose, a blood oxygenation and lactose monitor for people who run really long distances, … oh, and maybe a cool Nike cap with a little heads up display incorporated so we can watch video podcasts without headbutting a lamppost.  Read More

The BallFinder SCOUT electronic golfball finder

April 23, 2006 We’ve written about a few golfball finding mechanisms in our time, but none are as expensive or as accurate as the BallFinder SCOUT. The device exhibits an astonishing capability in digital imaging and tracking technology, using a video-based camera which can search up to 600 square feet in one second or almost 1/7 of an acre in 10 seconds. Each two megapixel image (two million pixels) is analysed pixel by pixel in nanoseconds and once a ball is found the device vibrates and reveals the ball’s location on the screen. The SCOUT finds balls hidden deep in rough if just three dimples are showing. As little as 1% of a standard white ball needs to be visible before BallFinder SCOUT will find it and guide a golfer to its resting place.  Read More

World’s first fully customised football boot

April 11, 2006 Rapid manufacturing and rapid prototyping machinery is not new, and has been written about many times across these pages – in essence, these machines print 3D objects in the same way an inkjet printer works. Each time we run such a story, it is extraordinarily well read as a high proportion of our readers explore the latest developments in the process. Now it seems, the rapid manufacturing concept will yield a new era in manufacturing products for individuals based on three dimensional scans of their body – garments, helmets, or boots that fit just one person perfectly. British company P2L has announced a football boot designed uniquely for the individual player using selective laser sintering. The Assassin is the name of the new soccer boot featuring laser sintered outsoles and hand-crafted one-piece leather uppers. Each boot is sculpted to the individual's foot. The upper is made of exclusively sourced calfskin from Italy which can be manipulated using sophisticated technology to adapt colour, appearance and function to the athlete's needs.  Read More

The MP3 sports shoe to grow into full body network

April 10, 2006 “Like many great ideas, this one grew out of my frustration with existing products on the market,” says LL International’s President and CEO Lavetta Willis. “I love to work out to music but also wanted to be hands free and wireless. When hiking or running, I want to reach for a water or cell phone without the complications of an mp3 player strapped to my body, never mind the wires always getting in the way.” The initial application under the Code M System product umbrella is a shoe that delivers music to a wireless headset. The delivery system consists of two key components seamlessly built into Dada shoes, offering easy access to your music with no wires and no digital music device to carry on your person. Willis adds, “Hands free working out! Hands free living!”  Read More

PowerBreathe- dumbells for your lungs

April 2, 2006 As science has focussed on human fitness and wellbeing over the last few decades, our understanding of the benefits of exercise has grown immensely. “Use it or lose it” applies to every aspect of human performance, and it’s now been proven that regular mental exercise improves your ability to think. So perhaps we should consider specialised training for the lungs? The lungs are without doubt one of the keys to all human performance as they supply the body with oxygen. Every 24 hours the average human takes over 20,000 breaths, with physically active people pushing towards 30,000 breaths. Most people assume breathing is controlled automatically, like our heartbeat, but the truth is that we can learn to breathe better. That’s the thinking behind the POWERbreathe training system – by exercising and strengthening the muscles we use to breathe (the inspiratory muscles) we can help alleviate breathlessness, improve all-round fitness and even maximise the effectiveness of other muscles used in exercise.  Read More

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