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Foto © Sam Rentmeester . 20160519 . Frans van der Helm, 3ME, meetschaats Delft Integraal DI // Visie

Photo © Sam Rentmeester

some of the research conducted at the TU Delft Sports Engineering Institute is focused on top sport.That lends the university a certain prestige. Top sport and world-class research go well together. Both demand the same mentality; research is also competitive. If you develop something  amazing that allows speed skaters to shave 0.2 seconds off their lap time, it might lead to more medals, but it has no direct
social impact. That being said, the clap skate was first developed for use by top sportspeople, but it was rapidly adopted by amateur skaters. I also have my own pair of clap skates. What is developed for top sport quickly finds its way into amateur sport. The data science from sports app Strava, for example. That produces a wealth of data. Nowadays, amateur cyclists have their own heart rate monitor and SRM pedals to measure torque. This allows you to assess your strength and see how good you are in comparison to others. I also use the app to discover enjoyable routes that other cyclists have already tried out. That stimulates me to go for a ride.

Research into recreational sport is focused primarily on the Faculties of Architecture and the Built Environment and Industrial Design Engineering. They are busy developing ideas to encourage people to get active. For example, challenging games that get children playing in the playground, instead of on their computers. Or concepts that offer elderly people a pleasurable, safe environment in which to walk. They need to be able to rely on finding a bench or toilet every now and again, so it is also a matter of urban planning.

The Sports Engineering Institute also collaborates with the Keio University in Japan, Stanford University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich on new types of sport, the so-called superhuman sports. These are sports powered by technology that also require physical exertion; a blend of gaming and sport. Think of Quidditch, from Harry Potter. Keio University has already created several videos about superhuman sports. We would like to put on a joint demonstration at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. We are putting student teams together so that we can participate in the initial demonstrations at Stanford next year. We have already developed drone combat and duels between people on springs, encased in a sumo-like air balloon. They walk and bang into each other. It is a physically demanding sport and it can be quite spectacular if they fall over, as they bounce up high. But they can’t hurt themselves, as they are protected by the air balloon.

And when it comes to adapted sports, we are conducting material research for blade runners and various types of wheelchairs for use in wheelchair basketball. The ultimate objective of rehabilitation should no longer be that people go home, but that they take up sport.

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