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12/21/2015 7:57 AM

World Cup skier Mathias Mayer had a significant crash this weekend but was wearing a new ski-specific Dainese suit with air bag technology. He suffered a broken vertebra but reports are that injuries would have been much worse w/o the air bags.


dainese d-air moto guts during development


the moto stuff is pretty bulky and expensive but the ski technology seems a bit more slimmed down. could this be in MTB's future? considering most world cuppers wear minimal pads, it'll be interesting to see.

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12/21/2015 8:59 AM

Interesting, I wonder what the trigger is? Inversion wouldn't be sufficient for the slopestyle guys. Seems like an g' threshold wouldn't protect a first impact too?

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12/21/2015 10:10 AM
easton wrote:

Interesting, I wonder what ...more

Make space for a new lever on your bars !

But really it would be interesting to know what the trigger(s) are, guessing it's sensors detect when the user is inverted or is experiencing G forces that are only associated with crashing in racing terms, but that would make them not so good for free style guys like you say.

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12/21/2015 11:02 AM
The D-air Ski has three gyroscopes, three accelerometers and a GPS unit. A replaceable cold-gas canister provides the near-instant inflation. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery powers the system. Except for the airbag itself, it’s all tucked into a hardened pocket on the back protector.

There’s even a USB port to download run data. Dainese spent two years collecting data from test runs, using skiers from the Canadian and Italian national teams.

That data let Dainese’s engineers code an algorithm that can tell, based on a racer’s acceleration and body position, whether he’s about to crash or just at the bottom of a post-jump compression. The algorithm is smart enough that it won’t inflate even in some crash situations, such as when a racer loses an edge and slides to a stop. “But if he starts to tumble,” says Dainese product manager Giovanni Fogal, “the suit inflates.” While car airbags deflate almost immediately, the D-air Ski stays inflated for up to 10 seconds, to protect the racer until he comes to a stop. Dainese says the system can absorb up to 60 percent of a crash impact.

Pretty damn cool, but I would think this would be even harder to design for mountain bikes. Maybe racers could get away with it, but freestyle?
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12/21/2015 1:04 PM

FIS is considering mandating them for all Alpine and some Freeski disciplines, I don't know about snowboarding, but in Skicross I will absolutely wear one.. POC is also working with InMotion on their version called the Spine VPD 2.0 Airbag Vest, I've tried it on and it's very minimal.

"The point of the device, called the Spine VPD 2.0 Airbag Vest, is to protect professional alpine and ski-cross racers from potentially fatal crashes by enveloping them in a cushion before they hit the snow. (POC says it will sell the vests to amateur skiers by fall 2016 and it's also considering use of the air bag technology in downhill bike gear.) The system takes 1,000 measurements per second, so it can calculate the exact instant when a crash begins, while the air bag—designed to protect the neck, chest, and spine—inflates in fewer than 100 milliseconds. According to POC, it’s four times as effective at protecting a wearer’s spine than the company’s normal back armor. “It’s simple physics and [demonstrates] what we’ve learned in helmets,” says Oscar Huss, head of product development at POC in Sweden. “If you can slow the travel before the impact force reaches the body, that deceleration equals greater protection.”

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12/21/2015 4:20 PM

All these systems are deployed by incredibly detailed algorithmic sequences. These sequences can be fine tuned to so many different applications but right now they are most widely developed for ski and sportbike racing as well as street use for moto. The algorithms are far and away the most difficult part of the entire process because they take hundreds or thousands of hours to perfect and, quite frankly, you can't go ask elite athletes to go intentionally crash. It takes a very organic development to get these systems just right.

One day you could see airbags in so many sports and disciplines including DH and slopestyle. I know for sure that Dainese was working with team Lapierre in 2013/2014 gathering data for D-Air use in mtb. Producing airbags for consumer use off the racetrack is exponentially more difficult because of the additional variables, liabilities and safety certification requirements, but obviously this is where the largest consumer base lies so the technology should trickle down in the sports where it makes sense.

In a couple years, whether they become mandated or not, you will see them worn by pretty much every rider on the Moto GP grid because different suit manufacturers are starting to make their leathers predisposed to wear a Dainese airbag underneath (and maybe soon an A-Stars airbag). Should WC skiing go this way then we'll probably see most those athletes wearing airbags as well. If everyone wore them it would be all for the better despite some very vocal and ignorant points of view.

To clarify, the moto picture posted above is from the first Dainese airbag deployed during a race in 2007. The system has come a very long way since and now it's hard to tell whether the system has deployed if you can't get a close up look. Skip to 1:37 to see an awesome highside slo-mo. Look at the shoulders to see the bag go off long before the rider's hands leave the bars.

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Big Bird
12/21/2015 4:39 PM,30526/FredLikesTrikes,18548

Slingshot Airbags? Perhaps this is another option. (Sponsor list at the end.) I found nothing but Polaris stuff upon Googling.

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12/21/2015 4:59 PM
easton wrote:

Interesting, I wonder what ...more

Bigburd wrote:

Make space for a new lever ...more

Seat to ass proximity sensor.. Just be sure to deactivate it when you hop off your bike to get on the lift, it'll blow you right off the thing.

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12/22/2015 2:42 PM

I'll buy one as soon as they hit the market for mountain bikes.

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12/24/2015 6:06 AM

Here is some non sponsored content industry insider information. This technology is still in the very early stages and it will likely be many many many years till we see it take off for say biking applications. Some of the reasons below;

1) IP. Thanks to our lovely patent system here in the states there is a small minority that have some tightly wound and broad patent language regarding the software and algorithms for these type of systems. This is the reason why the "invisible bike helmet' is unavailable here. The merits of our patent law systems aside (that's a doozy within itself), most of the owners of these patents and technologies are looking to develop this tech for non sport industries.

2) The mechanisms in play that deploy these airbags are cold gas inflators, which are the same thing used in auto airbags. These products are made by a few very large companies and they have established verticles for churning out 100's of thousands of these things for the auto industry. Developing CGI cannisters of specific gas volumes and pressures for non auto applications at low annual volumes is a barrier in itself with these manufacturers. This means that any CGI technologies currently out there for non auto use, is constrained to using CGI's that are currently in use in cars. Which means that a deployed volume and shape of a bag for a personal inflatable is a design constraint not defined by what the best safety solution is but by what people have the work with the available cannisters.

3) Noise. Ever hear an auto air bag go off? Large PSI differentials in millisecond time frames = loud. For non competitive and general public use this problem will need to be solved.

So yea, I think we're 10+ years away from this tech affecting Joe schmoe mountain biker.

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12/25/2015 12:56 AM

Looking at Mayers crash I think the added thickness added a pretty big lever for his neck to swing over. His head just whips back so hard at impact its more scary than just landing on his back. On a ski hill you almost always land on a smooth surface so a standard back protector should be more than plenty to cushion the impact.

Overall I havent really ever seen many back injuries in alpine racing, Svindal's injury is the only severe I can recall in recent time. He landed on his tail more so than his back and most spine protectors dont protect that low either way.

I do think this tech is more usable for dh mtb

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