This type of attention to detail helps take sport to the highest level. By optimizing the equipment, it all comes down to the athlete taking advantage of what they have.
It is interestging, though, when talking about the material waste of the manual method and comparing that to the softwarre costs. I wonder if it is really less expensive. Those packages are very expensive.
@Naperlou: I'm not sure material waste was the driving factor for this initiative, but rather a pleasant side outcome. The real goal was to optimize the kayakers' performance. As for the software costs, expensive, but becoming less so. And given that this was done via affiliations with different research and university entities, I'm sure they'd already made an investment in the software. But your point is well taken that this isn't a quick fix or cheap endeavor.
It's cool to get an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at some of the things these accomplished athletes do in order to excel in their sport. (We've also seen advancements in swimwear.) It makes the Games, at least for me, that much more fun to watch.
I wonder if there is a story here that involves gymnastics, too - maybe a materials angle? I heard an interview with one of the gymnasts who said the floor in London is not as "springy" as the floors they trained on in the US.
What a great app for 3D scanning and software tech. Considering how snug the fit of a kayak should be, this custom approach to building them makes a lot of sense. I wonder what other sports apps could benefit from similarly-designed customized equipment?
It's great to see technology applied to the Olympic sports. This is a great example. I also like the Blade Runner. I would imagine his artificial legs went through a lot if iterations before the came up with the legs that performed so well in the Olympics.
Good question, Ann. I would think the same technology could play a role for custom fit ski boots, types of bicycle equipment (seats come to mind), even perhaps for the luge in the winter Olympics. Once you start contemplating the technology, the possibilities seem to stack up.
Yes the Gymnastics Vault table was redesigned for the 2000 Olympics because a lot of accidents and deaths. It has more surface area and springs that help the athletes get more lift. You saw that the Girl's American gymnast McKayla Maroney used the spring better than the Chinese Olympic champion and had a higher lift on her events.
At first, I thought the subject article was going to address customizing the kayak craft itself to the athlete/rower. The seat customization is impressive alone, but you have to wonder how long before someone in the field starts taking a basic kayak "shell" (perhaps omitting the cutout for the athlete/rower, providing some extra polyethylene/fiberglass at the item's ends, adjusting other features and fixtures etc.) in anticipation of a final stage of manufacture in which the unit is "individualized," "fitted-out" or "trued/customized" to the specific weight, height, center of gravity, even gender of the eventual user of the craft. Using the same scanning and graphing techniques as noted in the piece, this idea would seem to be a logical next step.
@Stephen: Definite possibility for the next step, but definitely starting to edge into really expensive territory. Then again, when you're talking about major competitions like the Olympics, I suppose cost isn't really the driving issue. Thanks for pointing out.
Naperlou, I also wondered at this. Professional race teams take a lower technology approach to making the drivers' seats. Those are at least as conformal as the kayak fitout kits, but they do it using foam molds of the drivers' posteriors.
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