Sunday, March 11th, 2012
One of the most powerful men in the world gives us 25 minutes of his time to talk about sport. Great insight into his life and thoughts about sport.
More vidoes if you click the link above!
Article by Bryan Roberts
Friday, March 2nd, 2012
VOTE IN THE ENTERPRISE AWARDS HERE: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/enterprise-awards/consultancy/gb-rowing.html
As an official innovation partner to UK Sport, Loughborough’s Sports Technology Institute (STI) collaborates on a wealth of projects to optimise the world-beating performances of Britain’s most talented and dedicated athletes. Under UK Sport’s innovation programme, the Institute has been commissioned to develop cutting edge technology for a number of British teams including Rowing, one of the most successful sports for Great Britain.
With a gold medal won in every Olympics since 1984, the GB Rowing Team (GBRT) relies on accurately measuring the performance of its athletes during training to help maintain this winning streak. Early season, GBRT must measure a number of physiological parameters and force delivery at different training intensities to ensure that key performance milestones are met and that athletes are on track to medal success.
An expert in the design, manufacture and test of training systems, Loughborough’s Dr Ben Halkon was commissioned to design, develop and deliver enhanced instrumentation to the GBRT fleet of indoor rower machines. The customised equipment was developed by the highly skilled STI team in collaboration with the English Institute of Sport who were responsible for managing the delivery on behalf of the sport.
Incorporating technologies from local companies Protura and Aptifirst, the solution also features software developed in partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies to capture, process and report the performance data produced.
The project was delivered with tight time and budgetary constraints, to give GBRT access to information such as the current power production rates and stroke consistency of the senior rowing squad. This crucial data will be used to determine the future training requirements in order to maximise the possibility of world-class success.
Friday, March 2nd, 2012
At ISPO 2012 Munich, for me, the reality of the sports product industry was brought sharply into focus. Set over 16 exhibition halls just under 2000 sports brands were out to promote their new products and technologies across a number of different sporting areas.
With an R&D background, the more fashion/style brands passed me by somewhat, these guys, some the biggest names in their respective sport, were no doubt paying top dollar for their stands and were there with the sole aim to secure big contracts for their new product lines. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see their products, see the direction they were going, but when you’ve seen the latest coat/jacket/snowboard/gym equipment for one or two companies, you’ve probably seen them all.
The best bit of ISPO for me, were the smaller stands, around the perimeter of the halls, where the (usually) smaller up and coming companies were based. What I enjoyed most about these stands was the fact the people you were talking to, due to the size of the company, would be the owner or high level manager of the company. This is where you could really talk about their products; ask questions and make contacts more easily than on the bigger stands, where if you weren’t going to be making a substantial order for their products, they understandably weren’t as inclined to give you as much time.
The ISPO ‘Brand New’ 2012 area of the show exemplified this so well. This is a competition focussing on innovative products, run each year for start up brands. The finalists of the competition get a booth at the show and the exposure this creates. It was products from this area that a couple of my highlights come:
In my opinion a new snow sports product that could really catch on: a split snowboard design which essentially gives you a small snowboard on each foot. This split design seemingly gives you freedom of movement and manoeuvrability and the videos of tricks are impressive. However, whether this is a product restricted to snow parks or as a training aid for snowboarders isn’t clear, but if it can translate to the slopes for recreational skiers/boarders then with the right marketing this product could be big.
A really interesting and exciting technology that has potential applications in numerous sporting products. Koroyd is a tubular core created from a patented manufacturing process which thermally welds tubular shapes together. The 100% consistent thermal weld removes the inconsistencies associated with adhesive bonding of traditional honeycomb structures, additionally the tubular shape of the core means it behaves consistently no matter which way the core is orientated. It is claimed that Koroyd is also a better energy absorber than EPS and foams as well as being breathable and fully recyclable. It has been used in snowboards impressively reducing core weight by 70% whilst retaining strength and flex.
The potential applications of this technology are numerous, especially in the personal protective equipment market where weight can be reduced whilst improving performance related to energy absorption.
If you have aspirations to work in the sporting goods industry, are interested in innovation or just want to get a feel for the industry, then I would highly recommend going to ISPO without a doubt. For me it was an eye opener and has reinvigorated my love for what I do and given me motivation for what I want to do in the future.
Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
So ISPO 2012 done! It was a first time for me. Certainly an event to check out just for the sheer scale of the Munich venue and the surprising amount of brands that seem to exist and be able to spend big on some very flashy stands but have still yet to break through into the UK. Primarily a rendezvous for sales and distributers, the more technical amongst us are left to look a bit closer beyond the enthusiastic fluorescent extreme vibe and numerous renditions of artificial fur but there were a few golden nuggets to be had.
In the meantime it was also interesting to get out on the other side and see how products are actually being presented to buyers and consumers at such an event. Ultimately something that all researchers need to keep an eye on to ensure what they are working on is in demand!
Stand outs for me… The SmarTube by Blue Desert, simply on personal experience having had a couple of refillable bladder systems that have deteriorated after the struggle to keep clean, the ability to switch in your old but more fresh bottles of water or any drink is very appealing and convenient. Blue Desert also have a range of other neat bottle attachments to keep hydration handy!
As an ex swimmer, Powerbreather also caught my eye. Snorkels have now become more common place on the poolside to allow swimmers to focus on their technique without the complication of breathing. Where this product takes the lead is its balanced design around the head which should make the feeling of use more natural. They also claim the valve allows only fresh air to be inhaled along with no water! To strengthen the product even more it would be great to see smaller diameter tubes to minimize drag resistance and make it a little less cumbersome.
Finally, those that know me well, know that magnets make me a little bit excited! So there maybe some bias in this final product but if you use a helmet for your sport you can see exactly why it comes in useful. With the Fidlock there’s no more fiddling trying to buckle up, the magnets automatically orientate the buckle and then hold it securely with a one-way mechanism. To open the buckle just slide it out-Simple!
Article by Ash Gray
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