Athletes have been among the people who benefit the most from wearables, from performance to health.
Figure skating can look graceful and effortless, but everything from the spins to the quadruples and the triple axel can take its toll on an athlete’s body, and now wearable technology in the form of a “smart blade” can help to measure that impact.
The goal is not only to be able to improve the athlete’s performance, but also to avoid injury.
At the moment, the estimation is that the magnitude of force that is experienced by the body of a figure skater when landing on the ice following a jump can be as high as six times the body weight of that athlete. This makes it easier to understand why it is very common for injuries to occur within the sport. These injuries can end careers and change the body of the individual for the rest of their lives. A team of researchers has now come up with wearable technology in the form of a “smart” ice skate, which can measure the precise impact of the individual throughout the length of his or her training or routine.
This is only the latest example of wearable technology use in a growing trend among these mobile devices.
According to Ithaca College associate professor from the department of sport sciences, Deborah King, the goal is to use the information that they collect through these skate based wearables to be able to change the design of skates and form the best training and figure skating techniques in order to be able to bring a decline to the level of chronic injury within this sport.
King explained that “Figure skaters have, I would say, a fairly high incidence of injury which are thought to be related to the impacts from all the landings on the ice.” That said, at the moment, any understanding that the industry has with regards to the impact of skating techniques, training, and the skates themselves, is based purely on theory. King said that “We don’t know how high the impacts really are because most testing has been done in laboratory settings.”
In this case, the wearable technology will open up a world of understanding for this sport and, potentially, other sports in the future. King has been working with colleagues at Brigham Young University for more than two years in order to come up with the necessary electronic gauges to be able to fit them into the skate’s boot and on the blade so that strain and force will be able to be measured.