Today, we celebrate World IP Day, where we learn about the role that intellectual property rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity. This year, the theme for the day is "Reach for Gold - IP and Sports", and according to WIPO, 2,078 sports-related PCT applications were published in 2018, a 9% increase on 2017. This goes to show that there is an increasing amount of innovation taking place in the sports industry. What better way to celebrate the day than to take a quick look at some new and exciting inventions relating to our favourite sports!
As I am in training to take part in an IRONMAN event later this year, I have found three triathlon-related inventions that may be coming soon to a swim, cycle or run near you!
Have you ever wished (à la The Little Mermaid) that you could seamlessly transition between the pool and the poolside (and vice-versa)? Well now you can! WO2018218350 describes a "swimming fin adapted for walking" for wearing on a swimmers foot, featuring a shoe portion and fins which extend from the sides of the shoe portion. The fins do not extend beyond a front end of the shoe portion, and are located closer to an upper of the shoe portion than the sole, so as to allow easier walking than with typical swimming fins. If only Ariel had known about these...!
Do you see yourself as the next Mark Cavendish on the sprints, but feel your hands and arms getting tired after a few hours in the saddle? US2018362110 describes a handlebar arrangement for a bicycle, which has upper and lower handles, the upper handles having a higher elasticity than the lower handles. With their hands on the upper handles, the cyclist will be in a more relaxed position, with the elasticity allowing for reduced fatigue of the hands and arms. With their hands on the lower handles, the cyclist will be in a more aerodynamic "sprint" position, and the rigidity of the lower handles allows high forces to be transferred to the handlebars efficiently.
Ever wanted to put a literal "spring in your step"? CN108685257 describes a shoe containing springs in a heel portion, which provide cushioning as well as a high rebound force to help propel you off the ground. Maybe these shoes could help you achieve your next 5k PB (personal best for the non-sporty folk)?
While I'll be taking on my triathlon event without these useful inventions, maybe one day we'll see them used in mainstream sport.
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