Monday, February 13th, 2012
A huge 10m inflatable wall and a double decker bus plastered with extreme sports photography were a few of the advertising mediums manufacturers used to showcase their flagship products for the 2012-2013 season. Once inside, it was clear this was the place to be if you had a passion for sport and sports equipment. An eclectic mix of people, some in suits, some in board shorts on skateboards, but somehow it just seemed to work. Looking around you could see people meeting up with old acquaintances or making a new contact. The passion and energy in the room was contagious. Picking up the map of the conference layout was when it really hit home how massive ISPO was. There were 15 separate units split into sport specific categories. To put the scale into context, each unit could probably hold 2, or even 3, football pitches.
The exciting element of the conference for me was visiting the smaller brands, who were trying to increase their market presence and potential catch the eye of a big game player. Three products stood out to me and I have highlighted them below. I will be writing more detailed reviews of each product shortly.
It was my first visit to ISPO and personally I found it had a great buzz and energy about it. If you are involved in this industry, or aspire to be, ISPO is a must attend event in 2013.
1) Go Pro (Hero 2) – Extreme Sports Video
Their core product is a video/camera that in essence is capable of capturing extreme sports from unique perspectives. The Hero 2 can capture footage in HD at 120 fps and comes with a protection case that is suitable for underwater filming. This is a company for the future, look out for them – Be a HERO.
2) Recon Instruments – Head up displays
Velocity, distance, height of jump, friend finder, are just a small selection of tools available to the wearer. A head up display located in a pair of ski goggles that uses accelerometers and GPS technology to provide the wear with more information than they could hope for – Knowledge is power.
3) Kali Protective Helmets – Protect your assets
Quality looking helmets with the added benefit of improved protection. This is achieved through a patented manufacturing technique to improve the energy absorption characteristics – Use your head.
Article by David Rogers
Friday, February 10th, 2012
Nike revealed a new addition to the Nike+ family this month, the Fuelband. In essence it’s a wristband that measures movement. That in its self is nothing novel, however the marketing guys at Nike have established a clever USP. Movements are measured using a new metric called NikeFuel. The more active you are the more NikeFuel you earn. A normal day of activity, for instance, would provide 2,500 points of NikeFuel, while a high-energy day would provide 5,500.
The technology used in the system and the conversion from movement to Fuel is a mystery, however, it is likely they use tri-axis accelerometer to track the intensity of active to be able to convert this to NikeFuel. Four pre-sets are available: time, steps, calories and NikeFuel. Users can set targets of how active they want to be throughout the day with the 20 LED light display transitioning from red-to-green based on how close they are to achieving their target. Data can be transferred to a computer through the USB function or wirelessly to a free iPhone app.
Some of Nikes top sponsored athletes including Lance Armstrong, Kevin Durant and Carmelita Jeter endorse the product.
Armstrong said, “What’s great about the idea of NikeFuel and the FuelBand is the way it provides real information and numbers to show how much people are doing all day, every day. That’s what will get people challenging themselves to do more and better their own scores. It’s a tool to get people more active.”
“NikeFuel means everyone can get recognition for activities they do,” said Durant. “It provides a scoreboard for your day and gets everyone moving.”
Jeter said, “You don’t have to be an elite athlete to appreciate how NikeFuel can motivate you. It’s an easy way to get credit for activities and compare how you do with others, even if you take part in different sports.
The Nike Fuelband hits the US on the 22nd February, the UK on the 1st May and the rest of the world in the summer, with an expected price tag around £100.
Article by David Rogers
Friday, January 27th, 2012
Eleven times ASP world surfing champion Kelly Slater is the first to try Quiksilver’s Xplosive prototype wetsuit during the pipeline maters in Hawaii. The R&D team at quicksilver have integrated POWER LINES into the suit design based on advice from leading physiotherapists and engineers. The principle of these power lines is to store and release elastic energy back to the athlete through activation of major muscle groups.
“The power lines have been designed to mimic the naturally-occurring stretch reflexes within the body, by adding these lines to the already established reflexes, we can amplify the body response of action and reaction”.
Quiksilver also claim their suit improves proprioception and has injury prevention properties.
“The athlete’s awareness of their body is both complemented and enhanced by the suit. The wetsuit aids the control of major muscles during explosive actions and also allows for smooth movement. This is highly important in injury prevention.’
Quiksilver are not the first to add an elastic material to sporting apparel, indeed adidas were the first to market with their TECHFIT™ PowerWEB™ boldly claiming figures of improvements in power of up to 5%.
Whether the Xplosive suit is assistive, or indeed resistive remains to be seen until or if scientific data is published, wetsuits are almost resistance suits in themselves due to the nature of neoprene wrapped around the joints. Whether it reduces injury may be a question for Mr Slater as a long term and large scale study would be required to properly get a handle on this.
Article by David Rogers
Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
A busy year of sport is eagerly expected for 2012 and 2013 including some of the most widely viewed events around the world: The London Olympics Games, The Rugby Lions Tour of Australia and of course the UEFA European Football Championship held by joint hosts Poland and Ukraine.
The 2008 European championships, or Euros, held in Austria and Switzerland attracted circa 155 million live TV viewers over the tournament, a 33.9% increase on the 2004 Euros.
It is tradition that a new football is designed for every UEFA Euros and FIFA World Cup. The 2012 UEFA Euros is no exception and adidas, the official match ball supplier have designed the novel TANGO 12 football.
This ball is based on the modern FIFA 2010 World Cup football the ‘Jabulani’ (The most widely purchased football of all time, selling over 13 million replicas in 2010) and the balls of yesteryear; Tango River Plate (1980), Tango Mundial (1984) and Tango European (1988).
The TANGO 12 ball incorporates a 32 panel construction where the panels are thermally bounded together. This method forms the seams that are commonly expected on modern footballs, and then a protruding micro surface texture is applied to the outer surface. With 100’s of hours spent on wind tunnel testing, robot kicking trials and player testing, the design, dimensions and distribution of the surface textures (seams and micro texture) have been extensively measured and optimised. This ensures the ball produces a favourable performance, in terms of dynamic and aerodynamic characteristics. It also meets all FIFA denomination programme regulations and undergone rigorous durability tests as shown in the video in the link below:
It is clear from this video that footballs are much more than just the fancy graphics and advertising…
So next time you pick up a football take a closer look and see whether it is glued or stitched, 32 or 24 panels, smooth or micro surface textured.
Sports engineering is still in its infancy and the sophisticated equipment like this with the help of the adidas innovation team, Loughborough Sports Technology Institute and other innovative technical departments, within sporting goods brands, are all helping to push forward the boundaries of science in sport that gives benefits to every sports enthusiast.
Article by David Rogers