Author Archive

Study Shows Technology Advancements Can Help Figure Skating Safety

The body of a figure skater is put under an extreme of abuse. The jumps involved create a great deal of force on the lower body. Currently, it is not really possible to measure just how much force is being absorbed, or where. Some scientists are hoping to change that.

A new article from IOP Science says that there’s a lack of resources available to ensure the health and safety of figure skaters. However, this study says that there have been advancements in trying to create a blade that will help towards that goal.

The abstract covers “the development of an instrumented figure skating blade for measuring forces on-ice.” There’s a lot of physics involved, but this is the most interesting part of the abstract:

The measurement system consists of strain gauges attached to the blade, Wheatstone bridge circuit boards, and a data acquisition device. 

The rest of the abstract goes into detail about how the technology works.

The system is capable of measuring forces in the vertical and horizontal directions (inferior–superior and anterior–posterior directions, respectively) in each stanchion with a sampling rate of at least 1000 Hz and a resolution of approximately one-tenth of body weight.

Scientists are hoping that the data collected from this device will help people better understand the magnitude and the location of these intense forces on a figure skater’s body. This information will help go toward the prevention of use injuries — i.e. injuries caused by overexertion (strained muscle) rather than a singular incident (broken bone). Because of the nature of the sport, the only way to collect that data is actually while on the ice. Micro-computing has now made that a reality.

(Header photo via Dr.frog)

Arizona Fall League Implements Tech to Speed Up Pace of Play

At Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Arizona Fall League’s Salt River Rafters play their home games with NBA-style shot clocks installed on the field: one in the outfield, two on the backstop, and one in each dugout. All of this is part of MLB’s pace of game initiative intended to shorten the total time of a game.

The rules are simple enough. According to the AFL media guide, pitchers have 20 seconds to throw a pitch. If a pitcher holds the ball for more than 20 seconds without throwing it, a ball will be called. A batter must stay in the box during those 20 seconds, prepared for the pitch; if the batter steps out of the box during that period without calling time, the pitcher may throw the ball and an umpire can call it a strike. The 20 second rule begins once the pitcher is in possession of the ball.

In addition to the 20 second rule, there is a maximum inning break of two minutes and five seconds. The batter must enter the box by the 1:45 mark, otherwise, umpires will call an automatic strike. If the pitcher doesn’t throw the ball by the time the 2:05 is up, the umpire will call an automatic ball.

For pitching changes, there is a 2:30 clock that starts once the new pitcher steps onto the warning track or crosses the foul line. An automatic ball may be called if the new pitcher does not throw before the 2:30 is up.

There is also a maximum of three time outs allowed in a game, called by either player, coach, or manager (such as a visit to the mound). This excludes coaching visits due to an injury or an emergency.


Tyler Heineman, a catcher in the Houston Astros organization, said that players still have to get used to the rules being enforced. As of publish date, there have only been two games played with the clocks in use.

“I thought the pace of game was alright,” Heineman said. “A couple times, we got messed up with a couple of ball ones starting off the inning. Other than that, it was fine.”

Arizona Diamondbacks outfield prospect Evan Marzilli said that the rules change everything.

“It’s not something you’re used to,” Marzilli said. “I mean, I guess if we’re gonna have to implement them, we’re gonna have to go through them.”

Both Heineman and Salt River manager Andy Haines noted that the clocks may force pitchers to rush their routine a bit to get warmup pitches in before the 2:30 concludes.

“It might take away from their first couple of pitches because they’re out of gas,” Heineman said.

Haines added, “I know you see guys kinda jog or walk from the pen. That’s definitely different. There is no jogging or walking or else you won’t be able to throw any warmups. It’s definitely a sense of urgency to get out there.”

A lot of the changes being made are more of a mental challenge for players than anything. Heineman said that he thinks pitchers are trying to zone it out as much as possible.

“In the beginning of the innings, it might speed up their routine a little bit, but in between pitches, the 20 seconds really has no effect on them,” Heineman said.

Marzilli agreed that the 20 second rule doesn’t affect him.

“The between pitches [clock] doesn’t really bother me too much,” Marzilli said. “But definitely being in the outfield, coming in, having to run, and kinda rush, it’s something you’re not used to.”

Pitchers throwing within the 2:05 and 2:30 periods is something that they noted they needed to work on, with the Rafters’ starting pitcher Mark Appel being caught going past the time mark and starting off the count at 1-0.

“We saw [the differences] tonight, with a bunch of balls being called that guys weren’t even throwing them,” Marzilli said. “It is different, but we’ll see how it works out.”


Prior to the beginning of the AFL season, Haines said that the Salt River club ran simulated games where they would time the pitchers from the bullpen.

“Just to give them a heads up of where they were, that you were on schedule, you’re a little slow,” Haines said, “so they weren’t totally thrown off guard when they got out here, so they got a little bit of a heads up.”

Testing the initiative in the Fall League is something that makes the most sense, according to Haines.

“I don’t think any of us want them to try to experiment at the major league stadium,” Haines said. “They need to experiment; this is certainly the place to do it. I don’t think that’s even debatable.”

Haines respects Major League Baseball for the initiative itself, calling it something that they’re doing that is best for the game, even if it is a short period of time to test it in the Fall League. Haines also does not think that it will affect players negatively — in fact, it would only help them in the long run.

“If they do want to implement this, these players here will have an advantage because they’ll be conditioned a little bit,” Haines said. “I think that’s the way to look at it. I don’t see it being a disadvantage besides the fact that they’re just gonna have to run out there instead of walk or whatever their routine is, and just be aware of it. It’s a short window. They’re not asking us to do this for six months. It’s a six-week season. And it’s limited exposure for the players as far as this goes. And we’re getting good feedback. If they make a mistake, it’s ball one, it’s not the end of the world. We’ll learn from it.”

All photos by Jen Mac Ramos.

Robot Cheerleaders Introduced In Japan

Well, here’s something new to the world of sideline cheering: robot cheerleaders. This is actually rather cool, considering that they’re ROBOT CHEERLEADERS and they could probably shoot fireworks from their backs at some point. Probably a fire hazard, but you know, it’s a possible thing.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

At a demonstration in Tokyo, a troupe of 10 of the robots moved around in unison to form circles, squares and heart formations, to the bouncy accompaniment of J-pop music.

There’s a lot of possibilities with robot cheerleaders, I think, especially something that would lead to more robotics in sports. Not necessarily robot umpires, though that’s always a possibility, but robot vendors. Who wouldn’t want their beer being served by robots? Each robot being able to bring you beer on tap right to your seat. Robot cheerleaders that can throw hot dog sandwiches out into the crowd. This is a thing that this technology can provide for fans.

It could raise debate over the “human element” being destroyed in games, but it’s also something that moves society into a futuristic, Jetsons-esque lifestyle that, if I’m being completely honest here, is kind of completely cool. Now if only someone would make that hoverboard a real thing.

(Header by Takahiro Kyono)

Microchip Technology Incorporated to Improve Athlete Bioanalytics

Here’s something that could potentially be a big thing in sports: the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Cowboys are using microchip technology to collect data for bioanalytics.

The device emits and receives GPS and accelerometer signals, weighs about 1 ounce and is worn under practice jerseys, tucked into a pouch positioned near the top of the spine. The device emits real-time data on accelerations, decelerations, changes of direction and jumping (height and frequency).

Using the data, which Catapult calls “the world’s first bio-analytics platform,” sports teams monitor daily and weekly leg loads and adjust workouts accordingly. The data also helps quantify the progress of players who are rehabbing from injuries.

There’s so much potential for this in sports, especially in monitoring athletes’ health and rehab. It can also improve the data that’s already out there, such as in baseball with Trackman data. Scouting players and analyzing their play could be made easier with an increase in bioanalytic microchip technology within the next 10 years or so. There’d be much more accurate data — with a smaller margin of error — than there is right now, and that is a huge, huge thing for the future.

Of course, because it’s so recent, it may take a while for more teams to adapt this practice. Also, teams don’t necessarily have the same backing of a Mark Cuban-type like the Mavericks and the Cowboys have. Financial backing could, and would, be a problem for a lot of the small-market teams to incorporate. But, this is a start. There are still a lot of teams out there that don’t have the most advanced analytical technology yet, but it’s slowly being incorporated one way or another. Microchip technology could be the next thing.

(Header image via Raymangold22)

Quick Reaction: The Apple Watch

While we here at TechGraphs recently wrote about wearable tech, a new addition to the style of gadgets was officially announced: the Apple Watch. Shiny, new wearable tech, all for the price of $350. Now, for that much money, I would hope that there would be great new things that come with it, sports and fitness related. There are some of those, though, so don’t be disappointed. But when it comes to sports-related things? It doesn’t look like there’s anything on that so far, at least, when it comes to new, shiny things.

As a sports fan, I want to know if there will be anything new and specific to the Apple Watch that would pique my interest. If there are going to be Watch-specific apps that would enhance my viewing of games or anything that would just be helpful when I go to games, then awesome. Could I order a hot dog through a Watch when I’m at the game? Have we reached that level of 21st century technology yet?

There’s a lot of user-interactive technology on it, such as the Digital Touch features. While it’s not the thing that sports app developers would utilize, it could be something that would come into play in future Watch-friendly apps for sports. I’m not saying that it would be logical or that there would be a coherent reason, it’s certainly possible. Even with simple things like being able to go back on a game and see previous plays, or use a modified version of MLB’s AtBat or NHL’s GameCenter to track scores. Say, if watching highlights isn’t available because of a spotty connection, just pull up AtBat and you can swish through the gameday highlights.

The potential is certainly there, but is it worth the $350?

Since the Watch isn’t out yet, and third-party apps haven’t been announced, it’s hard to tell what exactly we can judge what it’s capable of. But for the Apple Watch to be a must-have for a tech-loving sports fan, they’re going to have to sell the product hard on sports features. Otherwise, I might as well just go for the cheaper alternative in Android Wear if the features are similar. I’m an Android user myself, so selling me on an Apple product might be tough enough, but I could easily be swayed by Back to the Future II-esque futuristic options that are snazzy.

(Screenshot via

Virtual Cooperstown Tour: Worth It?

I’ve never been to Cooperstown, but thanks to the Google Cultural Institute, I’m able to check out a virtual version of it. Now, as a baseball fan, of course I’ve got Cooperstown on my eternal baseball bucket list, but a virtual tour? How could it possibly hurt my desire to visit the place itself?

Screenshot 2014-09-04 12.17.25

The screen starts off simply enough. A little too simple, maybe. You have three categories on the first page: Exhibits, Street View, and Items. Exhibits show you a slideshow of photographs featuring Osvaldo Salas’ work. The exhibit itself is fascinating, showing a side of baseball from a time when minorities began to be included in the game after Jackie Robinson’s debut. There’s an atmosphere that’s lost when looking at it on a laptop, though — I don’t think you would get the full effect of the exhibit from looking at it on a computer screen.

Street View is a bit more interesting. It’s Google Maps Street View, except you can go inside a building — which is neat! Because who doesn’t want want to use Street View inside a building? There’s a floor map alongside the Street View, so you have an idea of where certain items are in the building. Because of Street View, it’s kind of (very) awkward to see every item on the walls, so keep that in mind if you’re looking at the exhibits. It’s not the best view of the exhibits, either.

Items leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a collection of photos on the main page of the Cooperstown Google Cultural Institute and that’s basically it. You could just Google images of your favorite ballplayers from the past and it would have the same effect.

All in all, I don’t think this is something to take time out of your day to check out. If you feel like it, of course, go and give it a look. It’s a good way to figure out which parts of Cooperstown you want to check out when you’re actually there, but don’t let it be a replacement for going to the actual thing.