Monday, 05 Sep, 2011 Technology
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Latest Inventions Developed to Help Athletes

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The evolution of sports is endless and everyday researchers are working on technologies that would help sportspeople register better results. The inventions that are developed today may as well take the meaning of sport to a new level, improving the athletes' skills and cutting the risk of injury. Here are some of the most interesting inventions created in the field.

Protective Clothing from Nanoparticles

Obviously those involved in high-speed sports require effective protection. Most of modern clothing used to absorb the impact is somewhat bulky and cannot offer full protection. The British company d30 together with Dow Corning developed Active Protection System materials that can solve the problem. Being flexible, these materials are able to move in sync with the human body and instantly harden upon impact.

The team of scientists from the University of Delaware managed to equip materials with nanoparticles that immediately become rigid once a kinetic power threshold is crossed. The invention could be used by athletes that are at a higher risk of getting serious injuries. The new materials can be widely used among downhill skiers and dirt bike racers. At the same time the invention could be used in ballet shoes and soccer balls.


New-Gen Prosthetics for Disabled Athletes

The latest technologies have taken a huge step ahead in helping the disabled improve their skills and register better results.

A very good example of how far the technologies went to help people with physical disabilities is the performance of Oscar Pistorius, an athlete from South Africa that became "the fastest man on no legs."

The runner used new-generation developed prosthetic limbs.

He was initially criticized because his artificial legs gave him an inequitable advantage over other athletes.

Nevertheless, the athlete managed to register several world records for double amputees and became three-time gold medalist in the 2008 Summer Paralympics.


Bicycle Grips that Warm Winter Cyclists

The A'ME's Clamp-On MTB Heated Tri Grips were developed with the goal of warming the hands of cyclists in winter, offering an effective alternative to thick gloves that can make hands sweaty and thus increasing the chances of injury.

Inside, the grips feature internal heaters. The latter are powered by a rechargeable 11.1 volt lithium-ion battery pack that a cyclist can attach to bike's frame using a special mounting kit developed for the system.

Due to the watertight connectors, the technology can be used in tough weather conditions be it rain or snow. In addition, it would be interesting to note that the system features 6 temperature settings that the user can choose by pressing a special button. The current settings can be viewed on the LEDs found on each grip. The surface of the grips is patented Vulcathane rubber and comes in six colors.


Boxing-Training Device that Fights Back

Invented by Kris Tressider, this apparatus was created not only to receive punches but also to fight back using its extended robotic arms. Dubbed the Punching Pro, the machine's articulated steel arms are powered by two 12-volt windshield wiper motors.

Each robotic arm rotates on a shoulder axis and has a bending elbow that receives signals with the help of a special cable. The arms can tuck, swing and extend. The boxer can easily adjust the height and the speed of movement of the robot.

The robot can perform unpredictable hits. This is due to the fact that each hand can be individually controlled. In case an additional motor is added, the robot will be able to show random combinations of hooks and jabs. In addition, when the machine is blocked by the user, its arms pause without influencing the internal timing mechanism, which cuts the risk of the robot actually harming the sparring partner.


New-Gen Sporting Goggles

Developed by Recon, the new technology incorporated in sporting goggles will be able to wirelessly connect via Bluetooth to smartphones (for hands-free call notification, displaying text messages), show detailed trail maps, and find the location of friends and family.

The micro-LCD direct-to-eye communications technology will show the wearer of the special goggles accurate trail maps offered by development associates like Mountain Dynamics. This will help users navigate easier through unknown resorts and slopes.

With the help of incorporated navigational system, the athletes will be able to locate and display their friends and family. The technology will be introduced into the frames of Recon-Ready goggles developed by the likes of Uvex, Alpina and Briko.

According to Recon its new technology will be allow the goggles to connect to wireless video cameras to transform the built-in LCD display into an in-goggle viewfinder. If implemented in some of the winter sports, the goggles could help athletes show better results.


Smart Basketball with Computer Chip

In order to improve a throw or the dribbling in basketball InfoMotion Sports Technologies together with a team of researchers from the University of Michigan developed a smart ball. The invention was developed with the goal of assessing players' shooting and ball-handling skills.

The ball features a small circuit board. The latter is attached to the inside of the basketball in a way so it would not influence its flight or bounce. While players dribble and shoot the ball, the circuit collects valuable information from its accelerometers and gyroscopes. The data is then wirelessly sent to a computer that helps analyze in detail each movement.

In such a way players will be able to see the things that they need to work on. It would be interesting to note that this invention is already used in a number of leagues around the United States. Scientists are working on licensing the chip to make it suitable for other sports. For example, the system will be used in soccer ball in 2012. Baseball-bat makers also look forward to implementing the technology.


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