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High-tech solutions from space
Science & Exploration

ISPO 2006: Space meets sports

14/07/2006 1098 views 0 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Business

From space to our every day life: At the world’s largest sports goods tradeshow ISPO, taking place 16 to 18 July in Munich, ESA is presenting down-to-earth applications and high-tech solutions from spaceflight - spotlight on wearable technologies.

Over 1000 exhibitors from 100 countries participate in this year’s ISPO, presenting latest sports- and adventure gear products to an expected audience of 60 000.

A bridge between space and other industries

“We participate at ISPO, because ESA has a long history in developing special technologies”, states Frank M. Salzgeber, Head of Commercial Development of ESA’s Human Exploration Promotion Division. “ESA has experience in bringing different disciplines together in innovative activities. ”That is why ESA has established the ESA Health Care Network, a joint initiative of ESA’s Human Exploration Promotion Division, Technology Transfer Programme and Science and Applications Division: to establish cooperation between the space sector and the health and wellness industry to demonstrate benefits that can be derived from such a cooperation.”

Bridging the gap between space and other industries
Bridging the gap between space and other industries

Interested suppliers can contact ESA directly, which will try and find apt technical solutions. ESA is bridging the gap between space and other industries – in the case of ISPO the sports and clothing industry.

Technology to put on

One of the highlights of the 2006 ISPO is the first-time special exhibition titled “Wearable Technologies”, which ESA, represented by the ESA Health Care Network, is taking part in. “The special show is designed to bring high-tech firms and companies from the fashion and sports sector together”, explains Ulrike Daniels, representative of Navispace, organiser of the special show. “Our aim is to encourage firms to develop new and innovative products.”

Clothing solutions derived from spaceflight
Clothing solutions derived from spaceflight

Wearable technologies are clothing items, backpacks or bags that incorporate additional technical functionalities. “We showcase a wide range of wearable technologies, ranging from backpacks with integrated lenses for videotaping, jackets with solar panels or GPS to a Bavarian Octoberfest Lederhosen with integrated mp3 players”, clarifies Ulrike Daniels. “We will present products from 25 suppliers in the ‘design parlour’ to be found in outdoor exhibition hall B2, where professional models present this high-tech fashion on the catwalk.”

Alongside commercially available products, clothing- and sports innovations are showcased. ESA is presenting clothing solutions deriving from spaceflight with possible earthbound transfer applications to the sports and clothing industry. What makes spaceflight and ‘wearable technologies’ a perfect match is that both demand compact, light and heavy-duty solutions that are easy to handle.

Spaceflight concepts for professional and amateur sports

Space technology racing suit
Space technology racing suit

A good example of a product that had its origin in space technology is a racing suit that was designed for the Formula One McLaren team and conceptualised by ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme. The suit features a cooling system that originally was developed for space suits. 50 meters of 2mm synthetic cannulas are incorporated in the fabric, which form a high performance cooling circuit. In the meantime, the space cooling mechanism has even been included in protection gear for firemen and steel workers. But Frank M. Salzgeber sees even broader application possibilities: ”this technique can also be useful for the water sports industry or motorbike clothing.”

Another successful space spin-off is the intelligent ‘Mamagoose’ baby pyjama, which is designed to prevent babies from crib death. The romper suit is equipped with five sensors, and monitors heart frequency and respiration. A computer collects and analyses the data, raising an alarm as soon as the sensors detect irregularities. These sensors were originally developed to monitor the vital data of astronauts.

This technology could also be used in sports equipment, explains Salzgeber. “A thinkable scenario would be to integrate similar sensors in a comfortable sports jersey. The vital data of bike racers or runners could be transmitted to a PC to analyse individual performance and to optimise the training.”

Keeping motorbike racers cool

Motorbike jacket inspired by space technology for astronauts
Motorbike jacket inspired by space technology for astronauts

A heating system for a motorbike jacket that gets its energy supply from the wearer ’s motorbike will be exhibited on the ‘Wearable technologies’ stand. It uses state-of-the-art technology and applied it to an internal heating system, which is hidden in the lining of this extraordinary motorbike jacket.

This sophisticated device can monitor body temperatures in four different areas of the torso and regulate the temperature accordingly. All the lightweight cables are hidden inside a soft lining, making the jacket aesthetical and comfortable to wear. The outer shell of the jacket is made of a finely woven nylon type of fabric that is not only water- and windproof, but its highly resistant fibers are also completely rip-proof. The concept was originally inspired by space technology used in body temperature management systems for astronauts. Currently a new version of this body temperature management system using nanotechnology is in the development phase.

The regeneration suit ‘Regent’ is a perfect transfer for sports injuries. Developed by the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP), a cooperation partner of ESA, the ‘Regent’ suit is a follow-up of the ‘Penguin’ suit, which was developed to avoid muscle loss of cosmonauts in space. ‘Regent’ consists of a number of elastic bands and acts as a full body expander that one can individually regulate. The ‘Regent’ suit is a real eye-catcher, looking like a mix of sports dress, hot pants and climbing harness.

For more information contact:

Frank M. Salzgeber
Head of Commercial Development, Human Exploration Promotion Division
Directorate of Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration
European Space Agency
Keplerlaan 1
NL – 2201 AZ Noordwijk
Tel.: + 31 71 565 3910
Fax: + 31 71 565 5232

Ulrike Daniels
Project Management / Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Navispace AG
Gewerbegebiet Sonderflughafen Oberpfaffenhofen
D – 82205 Gilching
Tel.: +49 8153 – 90 67 76
Fax: +49 8153 – 90 83 32

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