Performance-enhancing ... clothing?
Who needs performance-enhancing substances when you can wear performance-enhancing fabric? Researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia's national science agency, have invented an "interactive" garment that plays specific, individualized tunes when athletes move correctly.
The garment is made of a stretchy spandex material and contains sensors that monitor movement. When a basketball player takes a shot, for example, the sensors transmit information to a laptop, which produces audible tones in sync with the arm and wrist movements. The idea is to give athletes audible, real-time feedback. Through repeated use of the device, the athlete eventually recognizes the pattern of tones associated with a successful shot, kick or throw, or can recognize when his or her mechanics are off. Moreover, remembering the unique tune or beat could help athletes maintain correct mechanics while under the stress of competition. An interactive sleeve is demonstrated on the CSIRO website. But the material could be fashioned into running shorts or even a whole bodysuit, as noted in an article in MIT Technology Review.
Though unlikely to turn up on fashionistas, these garments could be used in many fields, such as entertainment, education, sports, military, rehabilitation and medicine, the creators believe. Maybe the clothing will turn up in toy stores. The first interactive garment was an "Air Guitar" shirt, a long-sleeved shirt that, depending on the movements of the wearer, produces a range of guitar chords from a remote computer. A fun new way to exercise, perhaps?
-- Shari Roan
Photos: Courtesy of CSIRO