Do you like the X-Games? Certainly you can’t deny that extreme sports has become a global phenomenon over the last decade, and the sports considered to be “Extreme Action Sports, aka (Xstreme Sports)”‘ certainly don’t fall short of athleticism, world-class talent and death-defying danger. Xtreme Sports, much like the olympics, have a Summer Games and a Winter Games competition. Summer includes skateboarding, BMX and free-style motocross… while the Winter Games include freestyle skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.
With all the unique tricks and flips involved in Xtreme Sports competition, you might ask yourself as you watch them on ESPN if there’s any standard or compulsory discipline to these sports. In other words, are athletes just going out there and performing hail mary tricks, or do they have requirements, touchtones and criterion for which they’re judged?
If you’ve watched these competitions but not too familiar with the sports, the answer might surprise you. Yes, they have requirments, and they’re judged based on the difficulty of these performances. Each trick actually has a dubbed name as well, like the “double-cork”, the “fakie ollie” and the “Ground beef”.
How do you measure these tricks and what technology is out there to help xtreme sports athletes improve their craft? One word…the Ripxx.
Ripxx is a small 3 oz device, about the size of a cell phone, that acts as sort of a “black box” on an airplane. It records and collects movement, “air”, velocity and all sorts of other measurements for later evaluation. The Ripxx contains a suite of sensors, including a GPS tracking chip, three accelerometers and three gyroscopes. The athlete wears the device on their respective equipment during a run and it records virtually every move he makes, keeping track of location, orientation, acceleration, velocity, altitude, air time, number of jumps, turns, spins and rolls.
Once data is collected from the athletes, the custom software, RIPXX Manager, can interpret it and replay individual runs, allowing the user to know exactly how fast, how far, how high he was at any point. Users can even view a 3D representation of the run from nearly any angle. Using the Ripxx device with lets you know precisely what was going on during a run, and gauge where each athlete accelerated, where they took air and how far they went. They can track their tricks and compare different runs. It’s like living in a video game.
The Ripxx PMD (Personal Measurement Device) is waterproof and shock-resistant. It’s shaped like your hand so it’s easy to hold. Its measurements are mind-blowing and extremely accurate. The OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen can perfrom in extreme temperatures, and meases speed, acceleration, time, air-time, distance, jump, roll-rates, spins and flips, vertical drop, altitude and slope.
The GPS tracker sends 10 tracking signals every second, making it more accurate than most cell phones or GPS devices. The GPS data will show your movements on a realistic map, giving you a birds-eye perspective. The 3 accelerometers measure speed up, down, left, right, backwards and forwards. And the 3 gyroscopes measure flips, spins and roll covered.
The RIPXX MANAGER is a totally free application that retrieves the data from your Ripxx and catalogs it on your computer. After you install it, this application automatically launches every time you plug your Ripxx into the USB port on your computer. It also atomatically compares the files on your Ripxx to the files on your computer. New files are flagged for transfer. You can customize your selections as much as you like before starting any transfers.
Ripxx Manager’s home screen shows you information on each file including location, ski resort, length, time of file, and altitude. This information allows you to quickly identify files and transfer them to your computer for playback using Ripxx Replay.
Ripxx Replay is a totally free software application designed to help you relive your sporting experience It contains realistic models of popular ski resorts in North America that contain each trail and lift as well as the local topography and trees. New resorts are added regularly and RIPXX is also about to release a “generic” scene so you can relive your experience from anywhere.
Three replay views are supported; first person, third person (over the shoulder) and helicopter. Ripxx Replay relies on “Animation Sequences” just like video games, to relive your experience. The software interprets the measurements Ripxx makes and renders them as cruising, jumps, spins, flips or any number of other events to provide you with a smooth realistic replay of your experience.
If you want something a bit more hardcore from the measurements, you can generate 2D (x-y) plots of the raw data and you can export the data to Google Earth, or to tabular data for analysis in popular spreadsheet programs.
Still not hardcore enough for you? Ripxx also offers the Ripxx Analysis product so you can easily filter, compare and analyze raw data between runs. This is the best way to really refine your athletic skills and take your sport to the next level. It’s how Ripxx helps their sponsored teams. Ripxx Analysis is the window into the raw data. Make plots of your data so you can analyze every twist and turn of your performance. Easy to use templates make it user friendly. Analysis know-how from Ripxx’s years of jet engine data analysis makes it effective.
Plots are interactive so you can zoom, pan, and wrestle with the raw numbers. Ripxx Analysis lets you plot data from multiple runs so you can assess changes in your performance easily. Simply open multiple files and use the alignment tool to align starts or key features in the data traces. You’ll be amazed at what you will learn once you have a tool like this in your hands.
The Ripxx comes with a pretty nifty velcro holster that strap onto your leg, arm, thigh…where ever is most comfortable for you. It’s easily accessible as well, so you can immediately look at your results at the bottom of a hill or at the end of a half-pipe.
“We developed the Ripxx so serious skiers and snowboarders could improve their performances,” said Dr. Kurt Nichol, lead scientist and president of Ripxx, Inc. “While not everyone can have a film crew and helicopter follow them around and document their runs in high definition video, anyone can strap on a Ripxx and record, save and share their runs with friends.” ($329, www.ripxx.com)
The Ripxx is a revolution in sports technology. Because of its size, ease of use and software companions, it is not only perfect for the professional athlete, but a great consumer product as well. I was very impressed with the data it collected, but that doesn’t hold a candle to what you can do with the data back at the PC. With 3D renderings and data manipulation, you seriously can do a lot with this. And you’ll be amazed at what different viewing perspectives and informational data can do for you and your athletic prowess. Now, you can actually tweek your areas that need improvment, not to mention record those feats that you can brag about for years.