Bio-printed fabric, exoskeleton, electronic sensors … the suits of professional swimmers increasingly resemble those of superheroes.
It’s more like a superhero jumpsuit than a beach costume, but Speedo’s FastSkin 4.0 fits well in the swimsuit category. As revealed by Gizmodo, the manufacturer specializing in swimming pool equipment unveiled on June 16 a concept that shows the evolution planned for its FastSkin line – which is aimed at professional swimmers. To say the least, it doesn’t have much in common with our colorful beach swimsuits.
Speedo uses cutting-edge technologies to help professional swimmers move faster. If the form and the training of the athletes remain of course the main factors of success or failure, certain techniques can significantly influence their speed.
A 3D printed swimsuit
In 2009, sports authorities, for example, banned 100% polyurethane suits accused of constituting a form of technological doping. These innovative jerseys had, it is true, upset the discipline: a hundred records had been broken after their appearance on the market.
The FastSkin 4.0 that Speedo presented yesterday is just a concept of what the company plans to develop by 2040. However, it gives a good overview of the technologies that the company is developing.
For starters, Speedo relies on 3D printed wetsuits after a full scan of the wearer. The goal is for the swimsuit to fit, to the nearest micrometer, every muscle of the swimmer. Such a fitted jersey would obviously be tedious to put on. Speedo has, however, provided an “Adapative Smart Lock Seal” function which will make it possible to easily close and open the suit, modifying the degree of compression at the neck, wrists and hips.
Speedo also relies on “Shark Skin 4.0 Boosters”, in other words a design and textures inspired by shark skin which will facilitate the flow of water away from the jersey and increase the propelling effect of each gesture made by swimmers.
The texture of a whale belly
The zones of the jersey covering the most fleshy parts of the body (the “Dynamic Flow Zones”) will be made up of a material reproducing the texture of a whale belly in order to optimize the movement of athletes in the pool. ‘water. A component of the jersey called the Core Reactor will also adjust the buoyancy of the set depending on the person’s posture in the water.
The FastSkin 4.0 will be equipped with an integrated exoskeleton, which will have the role of optimally supporting the swimmer in his movements of extension or contraction. Even more surprisingly, the jersey fabric should be made of material produced by genetically modified bacteria. These little “mutants” are not however there to give superpowers to carriers. The advantage of using this process is that the fabric thus produced should be 80% biodegradable and also easier to repair.
Haptic stimulation to guide athletes
The fabric of FastSkin 4.0 should be able to harness the swimmer’s kinetic energy to power various components including microsensors and real-time coaching AI. The sensors will notably monitor certain constants of the athletes (oxygen saturation, degree of hydration, etc.) in order to ensure that they are in the optimal state just before getting on the starting block.
The sensors are also supposed to study the postures and the rhythm of the swimmers in order to provide recommendations during the race, via haptic stimulation. Once the competition is over, the sensors will provide athletes with data on their condition (lactate level, etc.) in order to optimize their recovery process.
According to Speedo, the FastSkin 4.0 could improve sprint times by 4%, which is huge in the field of competitive sports where one second can make the difference. According to the company, her futuristic jersey will push the women’s 800-meter freestyle record below 8 minutes and the men’s 50-meter freestyle below 19 seconds.