Smart skates can help prevent figure skating injuries

A team of engineers at Brigham Young University are developing smart skates specifically for athletes who spin, jump and do crazy pirouettes on ice. Why? Well, figure skaters land with a force equal to six times their body weight when they jump (according to the team's paper published earlier), so they're prone to injuries like broken bones and impacted joints. These special skates can measure how hard the athletes land, enabling them to correct angles or to time their spins better to prevent accidents. Unfortunately, you can't just put a small analyzer on skates like you would on a baseball bat or a tennis racket to measure the force of a landing.

So, the engineers attached strain gauges and circuits to a pair of ice skates' blades, along with a device that digitizes and stores the data they collect. While they made sure the components are almost weightless and won't affect a skater's performance, the current design's still pretty rudimentary, as you can see below. The team's hoping tweak it further -- make it more accurate and refine its looks -- before it comes up with a product people can actually buy.

[Image credit: Shutterstock / Sergey Nivens]