5 December, 2021

Engineers see Olympic future of spray-on suits ‎

2 min read

As a new wave of a sports engineering comes out of the lab and into elite competitive games, experts say every sport – from swimming to skiing to the shot put – will benefit from scientific advances in materials, coaching techniques and tools that will continue to shave milliseconds off record times.

In a report on the future of sports engineering, scientists said they are keen to avoid accusations of “technology doping”.

They urged sports regulators and governing bodies to engage with scientists earlier to ensure technological advances push the boundaries as far as they can while staying within the rules.

WHAT IS POSSIBLE

“In sports engineering, the place we start is with the rules. And the rules of what is allowed are often quite strict, but the rules of what is possible are defined by Newton et al – they are the laws of physics,” said Steve Haake of Britain’s Sheffield Hallam University, who is regarded as one of the world’s leading sports engineers.

“We do a lot of horizon gazing. We will look for anything that might allow us to get some kind of advantage. We look at all the things that can be done, and then we see what would fit within the rules.”

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The report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, entitled “Sports Engineering: A unfair Advantage?”, said future advances could include prosthetic limbs controlled by the nervous system and spray-on clothing which would mean triathletes could use “spay chambers” to change almost instantaneously between swimming, cycling and running events.

It also said performance analysis sensors of the type already embedded in some high-tech running shoes could soon be routinely embedded inside the body, giving continous data on physiological changes during an athlete’s training session.

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