The Convergence of Technology

My research led me to read a lot of work by Nicholas Negroponte. He’s a guru when it comes to matters involving technology and has written a quite a bit on the topic of the convergence of technology. I am not sure that people ten years ago would have predicted the successes that have arisen in so many field of technology. Look at mobile phones for example.

In two decades they have gone from the equivalent of carrying around something the size of a car battery with a telephone attached to devices smaller than a pack of cigarettes. These small phones include digital cameras that are increasingly high resolution, have memories that allows thousands of songs to be stored, radio tuners, wordprocessors, calendars, wireless technology… The list goes on.

In sport, probably due to a smaller market base for sporting electronic consumables, the arms race has been slower. A few companies like Vetta, Cateye and Polar combined things early on in the bike market. So you could get a bike computer and a heartrate monitor in one package. It’s not really the show stopping stuff that gets people all excited though.

Recently the sort of stuff that will get people interested is starting to appear. Nike have teamed up with Apple to develop a unique iPod nano plug-in device that is a digital receiver and software package that works with a sensor transmitter that is build into special pairs of Nike running shoes. It’ll also search through your playlist to speed up the soundtrack you’re listening to so that it matches your pace.

Apple and Nike

Polar have teamed up with Adidas to develop a line of clothing that works specifically with the ir range of heartrate monitors. These mean the wearer can have a running top with a built in transmitter. Like the Nike Apple system, Polar’s wrist mounted computer will let you download your work out to a computer and check your performance.

Adidas and Polar

For some athletes just being able to record to a computer isn’t enough. If your a pro cyclist your coach might need to be able to monitor your performance from the field and Polar have also teamed up with Finnish counterparts Nokia to offer a system whereby data can be downloaded from the Heartrate monitor to a phone and either stored or sent to recipients.

Polar and Nokia

All of this is of course fairly cool stuff. The question is what will we see next. Other portable electronics have included Oakley’s foray into Sunglasses with built-in MP3 players. Burton have offered a wired Snowboard/Ski Jacket designed for iPod use for a number of seasons and there are numerous other examples.

I think the next big thing is going to involve fabric based electrical systems being developed further so that full systems such as MP3 Players and phones become part of the garment. It’s the evolutions of something that Burton and Motorola have already started. Active sport is an energy producing activity so the next challenge is to harness the body’s heat to power the devices and negate the need for batteries.

It might sound like futuristic stuff, but if you’d told an early BBC B computer user that in twenty years time they would have something thousands of time more powerful on a wrist watch they’d probably just have thought you were a dreamer too.

After a week without riding, it’s inspiring to hear a great ride report, so here’s one from MacPuppy in France – Tyrrell and I have made plans for a Peak District Epic this Sunday due to his inspiration. Did I mention that my cheeky South African colleague has entered us as a team into the draw for the Cape Epic for next March? If we get drawn from the hundreds of entry applications we are going to have to do some serious training and fundraising if we’re to actually make an impression on the field!

From: MacPuppy
Subject: Ride of the year (So Far)

So yesterday morning I went out for a ride with one of the locals, called Denis – that’s a slight understatement, he’s about as local as anyone could ever be, his family have lived on the plateau for over 300 years and used to own half the land that the village is now built on.

His folks own the local hotel and he is the chef. This means that he has time to ride for a few hours every day …. and it shows !!!

So he took me out to show me some trails and we started off as usual by heading straight up the ridge putting me straight into the red zone. From the off he was showing me stuff I already knew so I was quite pleased with myself but then 20mins into the ride he turned left onto the faintest line and plunged deep into the forest. I’d tried something like this on my own, in almost the same spot, a few weeks ago and ended up scrambling / dragging Musher down a huge bank when it became impossible to ride.

Down and down and down we went at breakneck speed on soft forest soil swooping between the trees on a line that suggested someone might have been down here a couple of decades ago. I think he got slightly lost because we had to ride across some fields at the bottom but I’ll happily lose myself on that one again. Musher was on the very edge of control, Denis was riding an Epic faster ….

So we meandered across the floor of the next valley (Meadre) towards the now flower filled Alpin ski slopes and he casually mentioned we were going up a very long climb !

Ashley – remember the good old days of the Graeme challenges ?
Feck me … we climbed forever and then a Graeme challenge came into view near the top when I was soooo busted I could barely see. A steep washed out climb with a gully down the centre which you had to hop over as you approached the top.

Denis the trials riding mountain goat cleaned it and Musher and I have a new challenge to master, we think we might get it one day.

Were now at the top of something and Denis’ favourite trail awaits. I know were waaaaaayyyyy above the Gorge de la Bourne (road riding pics of me over on the fotopic site) so he tells me were going to descend a very fast rocky section and then a bit where we’ll have to walk before we appear on a ledge which we’ll ride across. 200ft of vert rock on the left and about 800ft vert on the right down to the river – just keep following the blue markers he says.

We pass some walkers who look bemused to see two guys on bikes, a quick bonjour, smile politely and ease past.
Inpirational stuff …. Jawdropping views and only a cameraphone to capture them. Ho hum must return with proper camera.

So we navigate the ledge with only one heartstopping ‘pedal catches on tree to right of trail’ moment ! And then it’s off into the trees again swooping at warp speed down narrow twisty trails of super bright sunlit green and flashes of purple flowers and eventually spill out onto the gorge road.

Pheeeeeeuuuuuuuuuwwwwwww groof woof yip gruff awooooooooo – deed you bark he says ? I sought a beeg dog waz chaseeng me

And that was just the main course, we went on for 2 rounds of desert and a couple of expresso’s on the way back to the kennel. 3.5hrs of riding and I was so gubbed, I felt like I’d just done Mayhem solo.

Daisy : oh hi daddy, can you take me swimming ?
Daddy : just let me have awee drink first

With riding scenery like this I can’t wait to get out there and see the trails that are being ridden for myself. It sounds fantastic! To close with, i thought I’d share this absolutely brilliant find – the patience of this eBay seller has had people in tears.

Author: Cris Bloomfield

Usually mountain biking in the North.

3 thoughts on “The Convergence of Technology”

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