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A new breed of computer human interface for sports video game fans

March 22, 2006 From the time the first steering wheel controller was hooked to a computer, the future of video game controllers grew exponentially larger. Whatever the game being played, there was bound to be something that could be manufactured that would enhance the realism of the experience. Qmotions is a company devoted to creating new kinds of interactive experiences that combine real-world physicality with the immersive virtual environments found in computer and console video games and at last month’s American International Toy Fair 2006 it rolled out several new such interfaces, most notably its Xboard (for surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding and windsurfing video games), and Qmotions-Fun Fitness, a new device that converts recumbent bikes into video game machines, offering a compelling way to get fit and play games at the same time. There’s also a golf and a baseball controller, offering a diverse range of indoor fun for otherwise outdoor activities.  Read More

Soccer World Cup promises forefront of live sport services

March 5, 2006 The FIFA World Cup has inspired more than a few brave plans for the employment of technology over the past few years, many of which never materialised. One that will be on show when the world descends on Germany in June and July is Servingo, a personalized portal designed to help the three million expected visitors to find their way around the twelve World Cup venues from Berlin to Munich. Every conceivable aspect of information related to the tournament is aggregated through the portal which was built at a cost of eight million euros with a view to helping World Cup visitors feel that they are "visiting friends". The portal is amazing, with a range of innovative features such as personally-tailored information systems and personal diary pages, but the highlight is the 3D reconstruction of scenes from the soccer match that enables the viewer to view a replay of key scenes from any point in the stadium – from the referee's perspective or the eyes of the goalkeeper. To make this possible, the team constructed 3D models of stadiums and compiled catalogs of players. An ingenious software program manages to generate the scenes from TV images. Sophisticated algorithms compare the 'visual template' of the virtual 3D players with the TV image and keep adjusting the virtual player's posture until it matches the video image. In this way, picture by picture, a scene from the match can be reproduced from any angle.  Read More

Redesigning the cricket helmet

February 28, 2006 Cricket is one of the oldest and most original of all modern sports, originating somewhere between 700 and 900 years ago in England, with international competition beginning a century ago and almost no major rule changes since. As incredible as it may seem to the uninitiated in this most beguiling of contests, each international match lasts 30 hours over five days and often ends without a result, with each international series comprising five such matches (150 hours) also frequently ending without a clear winner. Played with a small, very hard ball which is bowled (thrown with a straight arm), at up to 160 km/h, it is illustrative of the staid mindset afflicting the governing body of the sport that helmets for the human being in the firing line were not introduced until 30 years ago despite a history of horrendous injury. Like nearly everything else in a sport afflicted by stubborn traditionalism, the design of the cricket helmet has trailed well behind the technologies available and with mid-2004 university tests showing that helmets can delay a batsman’s reactions by up to a quarter of a second, you’d think that we might have seen a rethink of cricket helmet design since then, but we haven’t noticed one. Inspired by those tests, designer Ravinder Sembi has reengineered the cricket helmet with a view to overcoming this fundamental problem.  Read More

Ultraportable ultrasound in use at Torino Winter Olympics

February 27, 2006 At each Olympic games, each country seeks to optimize its available athletic talent pool with the latest training, medical and technological expertise because the difference between a medal and nothing can be miniscule. A perfect example of this is the British Olympic team’s use of the GE Healthcare LOGIQ Book XP, the world's smallest, full-function multi-purpose portable ultrasound unit at the Torino Olympic Winter Games. The portable 5 kilo diagnostic scanner "in a backpack" allows instant diagnosis and more accurate examination, diagnosis and treatment of athlete injuries slope-side, rink-side or in the locker-room.  Read More

Scientifically-designed bedrooms offer athletes a competitive advantage in Torino

February 27, 2006 On the basis that sleep is so important and so basic that it could make the difference between winning the gold or the silver at the Olympic Games, a unique partnership has evolved for the Olympic Winter Games now taking place in Torino. With a view to giving U.S. Olympians a competitive advantage, Hilton Hotels combined with Alertness Solutions to optimize their sleep environment by incorporating a number of critical elements including enhanced bed size and bedding, a usable work area and an effective wake-up mechanism. Working with Dr. Mark Rosekind, a former NASA scientist and president of Alertness Solutions, Hilton modified 160 resident athlete dorm rooms last October at the Colorado Springs U.S. Olympic Training Center to help increase the athletes' alertness and reaction time for peak performance.  Read More

The solar-powered Golf Bag

February 24, 2006 If you’re a very wired dude and a golfer, the Soldius solar powered golf bag is an absolute must-have item. Innovative Dutch company Soldius makes a range of innovative solar chargers that include a pocket device and a number of carry bags with built-in solar panels to enable charging of personal electronic appliances on-the-go. The Soldius golf bag was a logical extension for the range, having been trialed as a concept last year and drawing enormous global interest. There will be four solar-powered bags available ranging in price from US$200 to the full-leather US$800 top-of-the-range bag.  Read More

Kati Wilhelm models the Clima TechFit cross-country suit

February 20, 2006 Adidas has debuted an athletic second skin at the Turin winter Olympics which it claims offers a significant improvement in energy output of the wearer. In controlled laboratory tests conducted together with the University of Calgary, the new Clima TechFit cross-country suit offers an average 5.3% improvement in energy output and 1.1% faster sprint time when measured over 30 metres. Most importantly, the tests measured a 1.3% reduction in oxygen consumption when wearing the new suit. The suit works by using compression strips that link the legs and the upper body with the power centre of the body. The suit employs a number of technologies to work its magic, one of which involves the compression strips supporting leg muscles and reducing muscle vibration and oscillation, thus reducing energy loss and muscle fatigue for better “muscle management.” The power bands embodied in the suit along key muscle groups contract and expand together with the muscles and thereby store energy when stretching and return energy when contracting back. Through the linking and interaction of all muscles, the suit enables greater efficiency to be achieved.  Read More

adidas shows first modular soccer boot

January 31, 2006 adidas unveiled a new soccer footwear concept late last week in Germany which could have far-reaching ramifications for the world's fashion footwear and sporting footwear industries. The boot is modular and will be known as the +F50 TUNIT. This new soccer boot concept allows players to customize, adapt and tune their boots to any weather, any pitch and their very own personal style. The revolutionary +F50 TUNIT is easily constructed from three interchangeable components: the upper, the chassis and the studs. Each component comes in a variety of styles and functions. Simply by mixing and matching their components of choice, each player can easily build and tune their boots.  Read More

Polar F55 heart rate monitor combines cardio and strength training

January 29, 2006 Finish heart-rate monitoring specialist Polar invented the first wireless heart rate monitor (HRM) in 1977 and has been a step ahead of the rest in helping people understand the importance of monitoring your body’s most important organ ever since. It is now going one step further in helping consumers better understand their bodies and achieve their fitness goals with a new total body workout model, the Polar F55 heart rate monitor. Incorporating both strength training and cardio exercise, the Polar F55 is ideal for exercisers looking for a complete full-body workout.  Read More

Sports bra monitors heart rate with built-in heart monitor

December 23, 2005 We’ve written a lot about heart monitoring and the advances in monitoring technologies over the last few years, reporting on Adidas’ Project Fusion, the BodyBugg, Garmin’s system for cyclists, Dual Sports combined heart rate monitor and MP3 player and Polar’s RS200sd Running Computer. With the exception of the first two, all of these monitors require the wearing of a chest strap and while this is sometimes difficult and uncomfortable enough for men, it creates much more of a problem for women. Now there’s an answer from heaven - a heart sensing sports bra.  Read More

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