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Smart technology for racing cyclists

October 11, 2006 The future of sport is not just about training hard, it’s about monitoring the body and making intelligent decisions using the data available and a fine example of the high-tech understanding being developed in sport science is the work being done by Dr Martin Becker of the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE. Becker has developed a new intelligent training system which uses sensors, computers and actuators to help racing cyclists optimize their performance. Each bicycle is fitted with equipment that constantly registers the forces acting on the pedals. Further significant factors are the rider’s pulse and pedaling frequency, the speed and the gradient. All these readings are collected in a processor on the bicycle and radioed to a central processing unit where they are analyzed. The computer delivers individual training recommendations to each rider: He can view them on a display mounted on the handlebars or listen to them over headphones.  Read More

The top ten golf gadgets

October 4, 2006 A good walk need not necessarily be spoiled if you employ the vast array of golfing aids that have graced these pages over the years. We have often reflected that more inventive creativity seems to be lavished on the sport of golf than on any other single human endeavour and we suspect it’s something to do with the type of people the game attracts (wealthy and presumably intelligent, or at least with a healthy dose of animal cunning), and in order to prove our seat-of-the-pants hypothesis, check out this array of remarkable golfing technology (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). QED! Now if golfers are so smart and so affluent, it’s time that golf courses got wise. A recent survey of 12,000 avid golfers across the United States showed that 72 percent of all respondents prefer to golf at a course that offers GPS over a golf course that did not offer GPS with only 24 percent indicating no preference and 91 percent had already played on a golf course that utilized a GPS system.  Read More

The Bodywall improves health for all age groups

The Bodywall is one of the most adaptable inventions we’ve ever seen. Designed as a way to assist athletes to stretch effectively, the high adhesion gloves and shoes and high-tech wall surface offer spiderman-like capabilities. So it’s a gym, a ready made game and new form of physical education and wil be undoubtedly incorporated into the training regime of every elite athlete on the planet. But its chameleon-like character solves different problems in different markets. As in the parable of the seven blind men and the elephant, each person experiences and perceives the Bodywall in a different way. The original concept was to use a combination of the wall and gravity to challenge the entire body – improving proprioception, building muscle, joint, ligament and tendon strength, maintaining flexibility, reducing injury, rehabilitating injuries and facilitating full stretching of almost every muscle in the body for the very young and the very old, and everyone in between. Bodywall can be used either privately or very publicly, and can be manufactured for an audience of one, with the manufacturers offering a personal service, accepting four-colour, high resolution digital imaging. For an individual training for their own life goals, the Bodywall’s massive surface is an ideal place to decorate with personal messages to absorb while stretching – a great place to focus energies, emblazon a life purpose or a “go get ‘em” motivational mantra. It can function as a personal billboard for athletes and on a team scale, it offers a mobile sponsor wall that can be set up quickly at any training venue, in the change rooms or beside the pitch, court or track. In a world obsessed with sport, it’s a new high-association, visual advertising medium for sponsors. Whichever way you look at this invention, it ticks ALL the boxes.  Read More

NO ban on Hypoxic Training

September 20, 2006 The Executive Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has decided not to ban Hypoxic Training systems and has not added artificially-induced hypoxic conditions to the 2007 List. The Committees found that the method was performance enhancing, determined that the methodology was contrary to the spirit of sport, raised some concerns but was inconclusive about the method's threat to athlete health. A substance or method may, but is not required to, be added to the Prohibited List if it meets two of these three criteria. There’s been a lot of discussion regarding the preliminaries for this decision and the subsequent misinformation surrounding the committee's determination that Hypoxic Training is contrary to the spirit of sport. Here are a few excellent resources for those whose mind is not yet made up: Interview with Dr John Hellemans of the New Zealand Academy of Sport South, links to WADA submissions from various authorities, and an excellent letter from Doriane L. Coleman , Professor of Law at Duke Law School, and an affiliate of Duke Law School's Center for Sports Law and Policy.  Read More

Swimmer’s Snorkel – one small design change, one world of difference

September 11, 2006 Sometimes it takes just a few millimeters of change to make an entirely new product and the front-mount Swimmer’s Snorkel is a prime example of this. Instead of the snorkel coming around the side of the face as is traditional with a divers snorkel, the Swimmer’s Snorkel exits the mouth and runs straight up over the nose protruding from the water above the head. This enables the swimmer to stay face down in a natural floating position. It can be used with any standard swimming goggle and allows a swimmer of any ability to loosen up in the water and maintain a completely relaxed, face-down floating position, promoting calmness and relaxed, rhythmical breathing. Apart from no longer needing to move your head to breathe, the Swimmer’s Snorkel is quite theatrical, offering a man-made equivalent to the shark’s ominous dorsal fin (albeit in yellow, green or blue), and a spectacular purging process akin to that of a whale spouting. The relaxed, horizontal position allows people to swim at normal or even slower speeds while maintaining a full range of motion. For experienced swimmers, it offers an opportunity to sort out flaws in the technique as it’s possible to eliminate the breathing cycle rotation and work solely on body stability, head position and stroke technique.Watch a Thorpe, Popov or Van Hoegenband and their body stability is like that of a battleship. The manufacturers of the Swimmer’s Snorkel claim dramatic effects from using the snorkel to remedy poor technique - from a floppy, sloppy stroke to cruising stability in one lap in some cases.  Read More

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

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