Skiing is a sport of strength, grace, speed and style, and it’s also one that can very easily kill you. As we saw again and again at the Winter Olympics, all it takes is one slushy patch and you can wipe out, sometimes severely injuring yourself. Which is why the D-Air Ski was invented.
The concept is simple; when the D-Air Ski detects you’re about to crash, using a variety of sensors, it inflates, protecting the chest, shoulders, upper back, and vertebrae. All this happens within 100 milliseconds, protecting skiiers against 61% of the impact energy. And that’s good news because a ski fall can be sudden, painful, and severe, and the torso is the least protected area. If this sounds familiar, you might be a motorcycle fan; it’s based on Dainese’s research into creating a motorcycle airbag.
The obvious question, though, is “How does this affect performance time?” Unfortunately, skiiers, especially professionals, will tend not to wear safety equipment if it will impede their ability to, you know, win races. That’s why, although the technology was ready to go three years ago, it’s only now coming to market; they’ve worked out the aerodynamics so that it neither impedes skiiers nor gives them an unfair aerodynamic advantage. They had to use Ferrari’s wind tunnel to do it, but they did finally manage it.
Fortunately, if you’re not a competitive skiier, and few of us are, that wind-tunnel stuff is little more than marketing. But the safety stuff isn’t; wiping out on the slopes is serious whether you’re an Olympic level skiier or just looking to have a little fun on the weekend. Also, while you shouldn’t strive to wipe out on the slopes, you can at least be a little badass without being injured if it happens.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.