Dainese has been developing a wearable airbag system the company hopes will help save skiers from broken bones and injuries after a wipeout on the slopes. And somehow, it’s managed to fit all of the hardware into a jersey that doesn’t look like it adds much bulk or weight to a skier’s outfit. Because after all, safety gear doesn’t work if you don’t want to wear it.
The D-Air Ski has actually been in development for the past three years, but Dainese finally has a competition-ready working prototype to show off. Using three accelerometers, three gyroscopes and a GPS unit, the garment can inflate an eight-liter airbag in less than 100 milliseconds after a crash is detected. But how the system actually detects a crash is probably its neatest trick.
Dainese analysed data from 283 downhill runs and over 700 minutes of skiers on the slopes to develop a custom algorithm that only triggers the airbags when a crash or fall occurs. Since the jersey — which makes it look like you’re wearing an ultra-thin backpack — is designed to be worn by even high-speed downhill skiers, it had to know the difference between the G-forces experienced in a turn versus a wipeout. And using all the sensors on board, it’s supposedly smart enough to only explode into action when it needs to.
Pricing and availability haven’t been announced just yet — Dainese obviously wants to ensure the system is as reliable as possible first since it can mean the difference between a skier walking away from a crash, or being taken away on a stretcher. But its sleek form factor means that athletes, even those competing to shave hundreds of a second off a run, might actually be willing to wear it, instead of simply hoping that their next run doesn’t result in a career-ending injury. [Dainese via Gizmag]