Thursday, January 26th, 2012
This Sunday (29th January) sees the opening day of Europe’s biggest outdoor trade show; ISPO. Held in Munich from January 29th-February 1st the event will see all the major players aswell as some of the emerging brands set out stall to buyers, media, researchers and enthusiasts showcasing product launches and technical developments.
For those of you not able to make it, the SPORTSTECHREVIEW team shall be there, to bring you the usual objective lowdown on what’s hot and what’s that tiny bit cooler (and not in a fashion sense)!
Tickets are still on sale and can be bought at the fair so look out for us and let us know what what’s taken your fancy!
Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
Babolat announced last week that they are developing a tennis racket, prototype to be shown first at the Roland Garros, that will store data about your swing and “flow”. They released very little else about its capabilities, but Eric Babolat, CEO, commented:
“Innovation is only valuable if it advances the game of tennis to the benefit of the greatest number of people, in 1875, Babolat invented the first strings for tennis racquets. More than 135 years of innovation and progress later, I am proud to present today our vision of the tennis of tomorrow, brought by our Play & Connect racquet.”
The planned launch date is 2013, so hopefully we will hear more about it then, but if the sensors integrated are similar to accelerometers then we can expect positional, velocity and acceleration data of the racket during use. It will be interesting to see how they separate a stroke with general play (probably through the accelerations and velocity), how they average the data over a particular stroke (so will it tell us the speed of a forehand smash, baseline shot, dropshot?), how the data will be presented to the public in a meaningful way (is it better to hit it faster? I doubt it because the racket would need to go at a specific speed to hit the baseline, any faster and it would overshoot) and how this will affect performance characteristics such as weight, vibration, sound and so on. Sensors will soon be in every sports product we use, but the hardest part is making sense of the data which is extracted. Sometimes position, power and speed are not necessarily the key parameters to look for. Understanding Babolat’s vision for the “flow of data” is intriguing and I am interested as to the market – competition or training. Would people buy a training racket? I don’t know but looking forward to finding out.
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.
Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Over the past couple of years, the team at Progressive Sports Technologies have been investigating running clothing reflectivity. It is a very new field to sports companies and one that has had little research or development. Indeed the team have developed many novel ways to assess reflectivity, contrast, and fabric brightness. In a survey of current night-time running jackets, there were a few brands who have delivered adequate solutions, but still consumers are frustrated by the need for the bright colours (yellow, orange, green) and silver 3M bands that are not very attractive in the daylight, nor are they very aesthetically pleasing. However, to me, Nike have created a fantastic solution, particularly if the developments of this fabric stem into different colourways to provide contrast in different environments. The Nike Vapor Flash running jacket appears matte in the daylight, but reflective at night! Of course, this would have little effect when there is no light present such as in the countryside at night, but for urban running this could be the optimum solution. Although we haven’t been able to get one in person, it appears to be a novel fabric using 3M reflective spheres. Much better and more attractive that the typical bands we see at the minute. Great job Nike – a truly unique innovation in this market!
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