Outdoors + Tech newsletter – February 11, 2020

Outdoors + Tech news articles, blog posts and research papers for February 11, 2020



‘Wristwatch’ Monitors Body Chemistry to Boost Athletic Performance, Prevent Injury

North Carolina State University, News from

Engineering researchers have developed a device the size of a wristwatch that can monitor an individual’s body chemistry to help improve athletic performance and identify potential health problems. The device can be used for everything from detecting dehydration to tracking athletic recovery, with applications ranging from military training to competitive sports.

“This technology allows us to test for a wide range of metabolites in almost real time,” says Michael Daniele, co-corresponding author of a paper on the work and an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University and in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


If I trained according to my Garmin watch “recovery advisor” I think I’d run once every 4 days…

Twitter; Steve Magness, David Epstein, Geoff Burns from

The algorithm is based on your heart rate as a percentage of the estimated max, and the time you spend there.

If your watch is getting your heart rate via pulse-oximetry at the wrist (and not a chest strap), it’s likely picking up your cadence signal (stronger signal than HR).


Fitbit Estimated Oxygen Variation: SpO2, sleep apnea and blood oxygen explained

Wareable (UK), James Stables from

… Blood oxygen can be used to detect sleep conditions such as sleep apnea, and offer a better analysis of what’s going on with our bodies in those lost hours.

But Fitbit’s Estimated Oxygen Variation data needs a little explanation. We spoke to Dr. Conor Heneghan, Fitbit’s Lead Sleep Research Scientist for everything you need to know.


non-wrist wearable

Next Generation Sports Wearable Pioneer NURVV Secures $9 Million Venture Round Led by Hiro Capital for its Revolutionary NURVV Run Insoles and Coaching App | Business Wire

Business Wire, Hiro Capital from

Fresh from a legendary launch at CES 2020, NURVV – the biomechanics innovator using British science to disrupt the global wearables industry – is today announcing it has closed its first venture funding round, led by Hiro Capital.

Hiro Capital – the new Sports technology, Games and Esports VC Fund led by Inspired Entertainment co-founder Luke Alvarez, Games Workshop co-founder Ian Livingstone CBE and Cherry Freeman, co-founder of LoveCrafts – has invested $9m in NURVV’s husband and wife team of serial entrepreneurs Jason and Ulrica Roberts.

The money will be used to bring NURVV’s debut product, NURVV Run, to a global market.


The next big thing in sports is clothes that give you perfect form

Fast Company, SportTechie, Joe Lemire from

In the not-too-distant future, you’ll be able to walk into a Niketown store, buy a Tiger Woods-branded golf shirt and, when lining up your shot on the fairway, hear Woods’s voice gently suggesting a change in technique—say, a longer pause at the top of a long-iron shot.

That’s the vision of Steven Webster, the 46-year-old cofounder and CEO of Asensei, a San Francisco-based startup that wants to turn your clothes into a personal coach. Forget smartwatches such as Fitbit, which merely track your steps or monitor your heart rate. Thanks to a new generation of sensors that can be woven into fabric, smart apparel can precisely analyze the way you run—or critique your golf swing—using the same motion capture technology that is used in Hollywood.


Wearable Monitor Provides Continuous Blood Pressure Data

Medgadget, Conn Hastings from

Researchers at Monash University in Australia have developed a wearable device that can continuously monitor blood pressure during a variety of activities including while exercising and during sleep. The technology does not require uncomfortable inflatable cuffs or invasive measurements, and uses continuous wave radar and photoplethysmogram sensors to monitor blood pressure.

“For close to a century, the health sector has used the cuff device to measure blood pressure. More invasive measures are used to monitor the continuous blood pressure of critically ill patients, which are uncomfortable and could potentially cause infection due to ischemia,” said Mehmet Yuce, a researcher involved in the study.



In 5 Years We’ll Each Have a GPS to Guide All Our Food Choices, says Suggestic CEO

The Spoon, Catherine Lamb from

Ten years ago if you were driving somewhere you’d have to either memorize directions or print out a paper map. Cut to now, and it’s almost unheard of to drive anywhere new without a GPS guiding you, turn by turn.

That’s exactly what Victor Chapela, CEO of personalized nutrition company Suggestic, thinks will happen to our diets. He believes that in five years, AI-driven technology will “drive” our food decisions just like a GPS drives our directions now. The result? Very high personalization, and comprehensive food discoverability.


UVA Researchers: Does My Smartphone Know I Am Sick?

University of Virginia, UVA Today from

What if smartphones could alert you or your physician to a medical problem? Or even monitor your progress after you had suffered a concussion?

A University of Virginia research team, in collaboration with Lockheed Martin Corp., is developing smartphone applications that can identify symptoms of infectious disease and traumatic brain injury by monitoring a user’s daily activities.

“After you experience a concussion, can we see patterns of behavior changes as you go about your daily life that would indicate you are recovering or getting worse?” said Laura Barnes, a UVA associate professor in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, where a dozen faculty members focus on health care systems research. “Can we use everyday devices people carry, like their smartphones and smartwatches, to identify these changes? We are ultimately looking for objective, quantifiable, digital biomarkers of disease. Sensors already embedded in smartphones – including light, microphone, pedometers, GPS, to name a few – have the potential to provide these markers.



‘Best in Show’ Winter Gear: Outdoor Retailer 2020

GearJunkie from

… Our team spent 3 days in Denver last week at the trade show to find the best to-be-released products for winter 2020-2021. The following items caught our eye at Outdoor Retailer as some of the most innovative and the “Best in Show.”


Product Innovations in the Sports Business 2020 Combine Performance and Sustainability

ISPO, Ole Zimmer from

… Product of the Year: New Solutions, New Technologies, New Markets

And even those who want to be named “Product of the Year” have little chance without a sustainable overall concept. It is about the interaction of production methods, performance, degree of innovation, design and market potential. “The selection is difficult because the manufacturers really only submit products for which they are convinced of their chances of winning,” says Franziska Zindl. This year, six products convinced the jury of their outstanding features and secured the award.

Alpina Sports – the First Back Protector Made of New Wool

The back protector from ALPINA SPORTS makes it particularly clear that there are always alternatives to classic polymers. In the PROLAN VEST both the protector plate and the vest are made of pure new wool from European sheep.


The best sports shoes for running, walking and hiking

NBC News, Better blog, Locke Hughes from

… To help you narrow down your decision, we asked avid runners and fitness professionals to tell us the shoes they swear by. Read on for 13 top picks.


Introducing World’s First Snowboard Binding Designed by Artificial Intelligence

Shop-Eat-Surf, Press Releases from

The innovative snowboard brand NOW, Nidecker Group, and ADDIT·ION, the Artificial Intelligence design specialists, have unveiled the first ever 3D-printed AI snowboard binding entirely designed by Artifical Intelligence.

To create a responsive binding, optimised for turning, we had to deliver maximum stiffness with the lowest possible mass. To make that happen, Addit-ion brought their mastery of AI design and 3D printing, Now brought their patented Skate Tech Technology & Nidecker Group brought their extended knowledge of binding Technology.



Improving adhesives for wearable sensors

American Chemical Society, ACS News Service Weekly PressPac from

By conveniently and painlessly collecting data, wearable sensors create many new possibilities for keeping tabs on the body. In order to work, these devices need to stay next to the skin. In a study described in ACS Omega, researchers tweaked a widely used polymer to create a potential new adhesive to keep these sensors in place.

Wearable devices are making an impact in medicine. For example, they are being used to monitor blood sugar without drawing blood, and some can automatically measure hospital patients’ vital signs. Sensors like these are often put in place using acrylic-based medical bandages. However, the adhesives on these bandages can provoke allergic reactions or cause pain when removed. Another option, silicone-based adhesives, doesn’t cause irritation, but also doesn’t stay put. Other adhesives, including bio-inspired ones that mimic gecko feet and octopus suckers, are not yet practical for mass production. To develop a better alternative, Xi Chen and Tetsushi Taguchi turned to a polymer, poly (vinyl alcohol) (PVA), which is not irritating to the skin and is currently used in some wound dressings, contact lenses and other similar items.


The time is now for ionic liquids

Chemical & Engineering News, Alexander H. Tullo from

On Finnish Independence Day in December 2018, Finland’s first lady, Jenni Haukio, wore a dress made from birch trees.

No, she wasn’t covered in bark and leaves. The garment was woven from fibers made using a process, called Ioncell, developed by Aalto University and the University of Helsinki.

The process uses ionic liquids such as 1,5-diazabicyclo[4.3.0]non-5-enium acetate ([DBNH][OAc]) and 7-methyl-1,5,7-triazabicyclo[4.4.0]dec-5-enium acetate ([mTBDH][OAc]) to dissolve cellulose and extract it from wood pulp. The natural polymer is spun into fibers.


What’s ski wax, and how does it help us schuss down the slopes?

Chemical & Engineering News, Laura Howes from

Although formulations are kept secret among competing athletes, one thing is clear: Fluorinated ingredients are contaminating ski slopes



#1 Rock Climbing Injury? New Study Has Answers

Orthopedics This Week, Tracey Romero from

Knee injuries, particularly media meniscal tears, are a growing concern among rock and boulder climbing athletes.

In a new study, “Mechanisms of Acute Knee Injuries in Bouldering and Rock Climbing Athletes” published online on January 31, 2020 in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers call for better training programs to reduce the number of these injuries.


How Running Surface and Speed Influence Your Risk of Injury

Podium Runner, Ian McMahan from

… Though popular belief holds that running on trails or softer surfaces is easier on the joints, well-established scientific evidence says otherwise. It turns out that the brain has its own version of a car’s road sensing suspension—something termed “muscle tuning.” While running, the brain constantly anticipates the stiffness of the surface—using data from past experience and information from the previous stride—and “tunes” how strongly the leg muscles contract before the foot hits the ground.

So when the trail gets softer, the leg becomes stiffer, leaving the net impact to the leg roughly the same. It’s how the body maintains the overall stiffness of the surface/shoe/leg combination and it’s the reason why running on softer surfaces doesn’t necessarily result in a lower rate of injury. The overall impact to the leg remains virtually the same whether running on trails, a beach or concrete.


Eat And Drink Away Sore Muscles

PodiumRunner, Matt Fitzgerald from

… there are also nutritional measures that can address muscle soreness in a few distinct ways.

Keep the Carb Fuel Gauge High

One of the simplest things you can do to reduce the amount of tissue damage your muscles are subjected to during running is to consume a sports drink during your longer runs. When muscle glycogen stores fall low late in long runs, the muscles rely increasingly on breaking down their own proteins to provide an alternative fuel source.



The city where cyclists are unwelcome

BBC Future, Sharon Tshipa from

Cyclists battle hostility in many cities worldwide, but in Gaborone, Botswana, the social stigma around cycling has made the streets “more dangerous than lions”.


3 Ways To Improve Your Winter Training

Marathon MTB, Ben Thomas from

… There’s no reason why a road cyclist cannot complete a similar workout and practise many of the same skills. The weekends see many business parks left deserted; these roads could be your training playground. Don’t forget the importance of group rides to maintain or improve your group riding skills, without practising these skills you’ll be riding uncomfortably in or out the back of the group on your first races.

Indoor training

I coach clients all around the world with climates ranging from the warmth of Australia to the freezing weather in Finnmark, Norway. For everyone the indoor trainer has a place, as a pro cyclist perhaps keeping safe from the icy roads or torrential rain, as an enthusiastic amateur needing to train early in the morning or late at night, as a young mother or father who cannot venture away from the house and baby monitor… There are many reasons why an indoor trainer offers you a great training solution.


Watch ‘Fast Life’: What It Takes to Be Mountain Biking’s Best

Men's Journal, BIKE Magazine from

Over the course of the past 2 seasons, Fast Life has combined the best on course action with unparalleled mountain bike athlete access, unique racing insights, snappy dialogue and killer music into a winning formula. Bottom line, you only have to check out Fast Life once to know that it’s the most relevant, sexiest, most adorable World Cup web series on the planet.


public lands

Billionaires are changing communities and the wild in Wyoming

High Country News, Carl Segerstrom from

Jutting more than 7,000 feet from the valley floor, the Teton Range offers some of the United States’ most dramatic vistas. But the jagged peaks are mirrored by equally sharp economic divides in the communities below. Lured by both natural beauty and favorable tax codes, the ultra-wealthy have flocked to Teton County, Wyoming, making it home to the highest level of wealth inequality in the country.

For Justin Farrell, a sociologist at Yale University who was born in Wyoming, Teton County provided the perfect location to interrogate income disparity’s impacts on both natural and human communities. His new book, Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West — the result of hundreds of interviews with both the area’s haves and its have-nots — reads like a blend between an extended case study and investigative journalism.


Being outdoors may increase your happiness

richmond.com, Lynn Jackson Kirk from

… There is a direct connection between nature-time and mental health, according to Dorothy Ibes, director of William & Mary’s Parks Research Lab, and Carolyn Schuyler, founder of Wildrock, a nonprofit nature center in Albemarle County. They shared these statistics and their recommendations in December during an ecotherapy presentation at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Henrico County.



Fireproof, lightweight solid electrolyte for safer lithium-ion batteries

ACS Pressroom, ACS News Service Weekly PressPac from

Lithium-ion batteries are in everything from cell phones to cars. However, recent incidents involving fires or explosions of these devices show there’s a need for safer batteries. One option is to replace the flammable liquid electrolyte with a solid-state electrolyte (SSE). But some of the most-studied SSEs are themselves flammable, leaving the original safety concern unaddressed. Researchers now report in ACS’ Nano Letters that they have developed an SSE that won’t burn up.


Simple, solar-powered water desalination

MIT News from

A completely passive solar-powered desalination system developed by researchers at MIT and in China could provide more than 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour for every square meter of solar collecting area. Such systems could potentially serve off-grid arid coastal areas to provide an efficient, low-cost water source.


Lasers etch a ‘perfect’ solar energy absorber

University of Rochester, NewsCenter from

The University of Rochester research lab that recently used lasers to create unsinkable metallic structures has now demonstrated how the same technology could be used to create highly efficient solar power generators.

In a paper in Light: Science & Applications, the lab of Chunlei Guo, professor of optics also affiliated with the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Material Sciences Program, describes using powerful femto-second laser pulses to etch metal surfaces with nanoscale structures that selectively absorb light only at the solar wavelengths, but not elsewhere.

A regular metal surface is shiny and highly reflective. Years ago, the Guo lab developed a black metal technology that turned shiny metals pitch black. “But to make a perfect solar absorber,” Guo says, “We need more than a black metal and the result is this selective absorber.”


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