Monday, February 13th, 2012
It was my 4th year at ISPO Munich and I must say that it is definitely the place to be if you are in the sporting goods industry. Although the focus is always snowsports, it is great to see such a variety of ideas, concepts and brands popping up every year. For me, the most exciting part is talking to the new brands who were awarded prizes in the ISPO Brand New award. This year the judges chose 50 new brands to showcase, all with great novel ideas. For me the highlights were Douchebags.com, Dual Snowboard, Smovetec, Rebreather and 4iiis. Each of these brands had great people behind them, and I look forward to future articles with interviews of the owners.
Again, there were a plethora of “barefoot” shoe brands. Unfortunately none hit the mark for me, the same concepts were recycled time and time again – ones that have been developed by “experts” but little substance when questioned. There is a lot of room in the market for barefoot brands, but its time to be innovative and different. Another disappointing product was a new football boot claiming increased speed because of a new stud configuration. If this is true then they are magicians, but when questioned there was no evidence behind the claims. Also, the mechanism which was described to me as being the reason for the increase in propulsion was also misguided. However, I will gladly apologise should this research come to fruition.
Onto, the big brands. A great showing – almost all had a large stand which promoted integration with the crowds, many of the staff were glad to talk to the consumers, and new innovations were showcased beautifully with clear marketing messages. Believe me it is fun playing with new toys and gadgets that are aimed at improving sports.
Sourcing is another interesting area. I spent around 5 hours trawling through factory stands from China, India, Taiwan, Pakistan and much more. I am always pleased by how friendly, open and honest they all are. We have so much to learn from the Asian manufacturers. In the factories I visited on this trip, they were more than helpful even to the point of wanting to travel over to the UK just to talk about business.
Finally, the most exhilarating part is always the new sports shown around the peripheries of the halls. This year the major talking point was the inaugural URBANLINING open. A mixture between tight-rope walking, trampolining and gymnastics. This sport is crazy but, becoming popular, being shown at half-time in Madonna’s show during the SuperBowl. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to wait around to see the eventual winner, but whoever they are, they are extreme in my mind.
Love ISPO, just wish there could be an alternative for less extreme sports. Looking forward to next year already,
Article by Bryan Roberts
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
Monday, January 23rd, 2012
The Royal Institution of Science are hosting a great series of lectures across the UK investigating cutting edge design, technology and science in sport. Many of my colleagues are presenting and this should be an inspirational series of lectures that delve into the depths of sports technology, science and engineering. Best of all – they are all FREE!!! The list of lecture titles and where they are being held are below:
Cutting Edge 2012: Behind Basketball
Wednesday 25 January 7.00pm – 8.30pm
The Royal Institution, London
Cutting Edge 2012: Behind Triathlon
Tuesday 27 March 7.00pm – 8.30pm
Cutting Edge 2012: Behind Athletics
Thursday 26 April 7.00pm – 8.30pm
English Institute of Sport, Sheffield
Cutting Edge 2012: Behind Diving
Thursday 5 July 7.00pm – 8.30pm
Plymouth Life Centre, Plymouth
Cutting Edge 2012: Behind Sailing
Weymouth Sailing Academy, Weymouth
Cutting Edge 2012: Behind Cycling
Thursday 19 July 7.00pm – 8.30pm
The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow
For more information please visit the Royal Institution of Great Britain website.
Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
2011 was an active year in the sporting goods industry, highlighted by the multitude of articles found on the this website. I’m confident that 2012 will see even more exciting articles published, and it is lining up to be an action packed year of sport ahead with the London Olympics no doubt being the pinnacle event on the horizon.
Looking back on the year just gone I believe the stand out headline of 2011 on the sports technology front was the huge $25 million fine imposed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Reebok. The fine was issued due to the advertising campaign for the Reebok ‘EasyTone’ shoe that was reported to improve muscle toning and strength in the leg and bottom region by astronomical margins. This is likely to be the first time in the sporting goods industry that such a phenomenal sum has been imposed for false advertising. I’m sure that the size of the fine was felt even at Reebok (owned by adidas AG, the second largest sporting goods brand in the world) and will send a strong message to the marketing driven sports goods industry that basing results and statistics on insignificant sample populations (in some cases one!) is not acceptable for ethical marketing campaigns.
The fine was large, but it was interesting to note that no such fines have been imposed anywhere else globally, the FTC are an independent agency accountable in the US only. This raises an important question for advertising legislation and management in the UK and the rest of the world. Why is the FTC the only body to have acted on Reebok’s global advertising campaign? On a much more positive note, it is hoped that the long term effect of this fine, is increased research and development funding at sporting goods companies. The message is clear; marketing has to be based on credible facts and figures rather than fantasy, which will incur associated time and resource costs.
Article by Jouni Ronkainen
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