Last month we saw the Great British Olympic team triumph at the Rio Olympics, coming second in the medals table with 67 medals overall and 27 of them being gold! In our previous technology blog ‘Going for gold: does technology lead to Olympic success’ we talked about the many technologies being utilised by athletes to help them achieve medal success at the Rio Olympics last month. With the Rio Paralympics just around the corner, the same question applies – does technology aid in Paralympic success?
We discuss the many fantastic technologies being used by Paralympians to enhance their performance.
Emerging tech and Custom Made wearables
In our previous article we mentioned emerging technologies such as 3D printing, with Autodesk an American software corporation joining forces with German Paralympic cyclist Denise Schindler to design her a 3D printed prosthetic leg.
The British Paralympic team will also be wearing custom made gear at this year’s Paralympics; with champion of Paralympic cycling Megan Giglia sporting a carbon fibre body brace. The brace, called the Ankle-Foot-Orthosis (AFO) was developed by Ottobock who are official prosthetics maker for the Paralympics. The specially designed brace will be strapped to Megan’s racing shoe on her bike, providing stability and strength her leg needs when riding. Ottobock have also made custom made running blades and knee braces for triathlete Andy Lewis (pictured left) and sprinter Julie Rogers, who will be aiming for sprinting success at the 2016 Paralympics.
BMW made Paralympic bikes
US cyclists have also aimed to improve their aerodynamics for the Rio Paralympics with the help of car brand BMW, by creating a racing wheelchair that is said to be faster and more comfortable than previous chairs. BMW worked with the USA Paralympic team to create a more aerodynamic chair, and by testing the it in wind tunnel conditions it has claimed to have reduced drag during racing by 15%.
Indoor training with BAE systems
The British team have also benefited from new wheelchair design and wind tunnel technology, working with BAE systems to enhance the aerodynamics of wheelchair Paralympians. UK sport and BAE Systems technology joined together to create an innovative new racing wheel that is stronger, faster and lighter than previous designs.
The Paralympic athletes also utilised BAE Systems wind tunnel technology to simulate racing speeds of more than 30mph in a tunnel that is usually used to test fighter jet aerodynamics. This helped the athletes to improve their body position in relation to wind resistance and enabled the racing chairs to achieve a 20% increase in acceleration.
Hi-tech Swimming Caps
Moving away from cycling and towards the pool; Paralympic swimmers that usually relied on tappers, or foam tipped rods to help them navigate in the pool will now benefit from the technology of the Blind Cap.
Samsung has worked in collaboration with the Spanish Paralympic committee to develop the Blind Cap that uses a vibration system and Bluetooth technology. This brilliant technology allows the swimmers coach to send vibrations to alert the athlete when they need to turn at the end of the lane. (Watch video below to see how it works)
It is important to mention again that tech has come a long way in helping athletes around the world enhance their performance in sport. More significantly it has also shown that through tech innovation, barriers for Paralympians can be broken down, allowing them to compete in their field of sport regardless of disability. As we were avid followers of the Rio Olympics, we are again excited that 2 weeks of sporting events are back with the Rio Paralympics 2016!