Winter sports regions both in Switzerland and the Northeastern U.S. have recently faced the same threats: unseasonably warm weather and thin snow cover. While it is difficult to quantify the impact weather has on the winter sports industry, it is clear that snowfall has a direct effect on consumer purchases and participation levels. But it is not only climate change that has tremendous consequences on the winter sports industry and its manufacturers, but also the continuous challenges to stay ahead of the curve and keep up with technology trends in order to satisfy the consumer, be it in terms of product quality or service delivery.
Within the framework of “ThinkSwiss – Brainstorm the Future,” the Consulate of Switzerland – SHARE Boston is organizing a series of informative and entertaining presentations with the goal to showcase Switzerland’s strengths in innovation in the area of snow and winter sports. Among the SHARE's partners is the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Testing and Research, investigating the effects of sports clothing on human body temperature control, a process scientifically known as thermoregulation.
One of the ways of investigating this aspect was to create a sweating robot, called “Sam” (“sweating agile mannequin”), an articulated dummy that perspires through innumerable minute openings just like a human being. Sam has 125 sweat nozzles on his plastic head and body. The surface of the mannequin is heated up to a skin temperature of 34 degrees Celsius, letting Sam simulate heat and moisture transfer on the human body so that researchers can develop high-tech fibers capable of sustaining a sweating athlete in freezing conditions.
“The idea of creating functional clothing for winter sports is to make sure people do not cool down too much. So after the activity the clothing has to dry very fast,” Professor Rene Rossi, in charge of the project, said. “Therefore we usually use synthetic materials that do not absorb the humidity but store it in between the fibers so it evaporates quickly.”
With the help of Sam, the team is creating fibers designed to change how much air and moisture can permeate clothing and adjust as the body's temperature rises and falls.
We are just a few, but there are many of you, Softpedia users, out there. That's why we thought it would be a good idea to create an email address for you to help us a little in finding gadgets we missed. Interesting links are bound to be posted with recognition going mainly to those who submit. The address is .