A computerised football that helps players train is among a range of sporting innovations being developed with the University of Ulster which are being showcased at an event today.
Visitors to theCollaborative Networking for Sport Innovationevent in Jordanstown will see a range of products in various stages of development including a mobile ice bath for athletes and a match analysis i-Pad app that even the smallest sports club could afford.
Details of a 20,000 euro (£16,000) innovation competition open to local businesses will also be announced at the Jordanstown event.
Kyle Ferguson from the Ulster Sports Academy explained: “The event will showcase sports innovation work in Northern Ireland and the successes of collaborations with the University.
“The strength of these collaborations is based on a golden triangle of business innovation, university expertise and coaching/elite performer input.
“This triangle has proved successful and has seen the Sports Academy complete 12 Innovation Vouchers in the past two years specifically for sports-related businesses in Northern Ireland as well as numerous research, development and consultations with sports businesses.
“As our economy continues to struggle, opportunities within the sports industry are growing especially during this Olympic year - not only locally but within Europe and further afield.”
Professor Eric Wallace, Ulster’s Director of the Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute, will give an overview of the University’s diverse research and innovation work includinga major European project.
The University is a research partner in the ‘ProFit’ project, which aims to stimulate innovation in sports products and services while promoting increasing levels of physical activity by developing an EU network of field-labs focused on sport. This project is sponsoring the ProFit Innovation Award 2012.
Professor Wallace said: “This is a new competitionto find innovations related to sports and exercise. Itcan be entered with an innovative design - for example, a product, service, or combination of both that is still in an experimental phase or one that has been worked out concretely.”
Also speaking at the event will be Professor James McLaughlin,Director of the Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre and Director of the Engineering Research Institute at the University. His talk will focus on how sensing technology has been at the basis of developing aset of spin-out companies at NIBEC.
“Products associated with sensing technology research is being developed in the direction of wearable lifestyle/sports monitoring clothing,” said Professor McLaughlin.
“Miniaturisation and integration of sensing systems, incorporating wireless solutions, is now allowing smart monitoring of the sportsperson to enhance performance, improve their health and provide a better understanding of related scientific areassuch as biomechanics, nutrition and exercise.”
Other speakers will discuss how building successful collaborative networks is essential to drive and facilitate sport innovation in Ireland and will also highlight how a mix of people, ideas and resources across universities, businesses and sorting communities is essential for their success.
The event is supported by the Office of Innovation’s Knowledge Club and Connected NI.
The deadline for the ProFit Innovation Award is September 30, 2012. For more information go towww.profitproject.org/about-profit/innovation-competition
ProFit is funded by the European Union under the Interreg IVB North West Europe programme.