POC introduces airbag vest for skiers

Could this technology be used by mountain bikers, too?

Apparel Armor News
The airbag system consists of integrated sensors and uses an algorithm to distinguish between a crash or fall from the normal forces associated with alpine ski racing.

The airbag system consists of integrated sensors and uses an algorithm to distinguish between a crash or fall from the normal forces associated with alpine ski racing (click to enlarge).

We don’t usually post information about winter sports products here, but this new alpine skier airbag safety vest from POC and In&motion caught our eye. In fact, it seemed especially relevant after last week’s spate of bad crashes at Red Bull Rampage.

The airbag system consists of integrated sensors and uses an algorithm to distinguish between a crash or fall from the normal forces associated with alpine ski racing. In order to detect a loss of balance the system keeps track of the skier’s movement by performing 1000 analysis per second. When a fall is detected, the airbag is inflated in less than 100 milliseconds to provide protection for the neck, chest, spine, abdomen and hips.

Now depending on how well all that built-in technology works, and the overall weight of the vest, it seems like this could work for mountain bikers, too. Especially for the gravity and freeride crowd, where a few hundred extra grams isn’t likely to be too big a deal — as long as the bag never deploys accidentally. Can you imagine…

An airbag vest would be a really good thing to have in this situation.

An airbag vest would be a really good thing to have in this situation (click to enlarge).

The Spine VPD 2.0 Airbag Vest system is integrated within a lightweight vest wearable under a ski racing suit, which POC says makes it convenient and comfortable to wear. Wind tunnel testing has also shown that the vest has no effect on a skier’s aerodynamics, which if true is sure to please cyclists as well. The vest has already been approved by the International Ski Federation.

POC claims the airbag provides wide-spanning protection that’s up to 4x the absorption capacity of a standard back protector. Once deployed the system is reusable simply by replacing the CO2 inflator.

“After spending months analyzing the accidents and trauma on ski racers, a wearable intelligent airbag system appeared to be the best technical solution for serious injuries,” said In&motion co-founder Pierre-Francois Tissot. “The equipment is ideal for sports like alpine and ski cross as it is based on intelligent technology able to anticipate falls and able to protect selected zones of the body before impact.”

Availability is set for fall 2016. No word yet on pricing — or if the two companies will attempt to apply the technology to other sports. For the sake of Red Bull Rampage athletes and mountain bikers in general, let’s hope they do.

For more information visit www.pocsports.com and www.inemotion.com.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympics, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the Mtbr staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.


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  • Rob says:

    This airbag system actually comes from the Motorcycle industry, funny how it would be skip MTB straight into skiing. FIS was a big backer of this tech, not sure if competitors in the alpine speed events will be using these this year.

  • Matt says:

    Sounds like the developers have focused on the very linear discipline of ski racing, where there is a rather narrow range of motion. It’s hard to imagine how this tech could be adapted to freestyle mountain biking, or even freestyle skiing, where athletes frontflip, backflip, spin, do corked variations, etc., not to mention experience extended periods of freefall, followed by massive impacts.
    If this came from the motorcycle world, was it used just on the road, or did they manage to implement it successfully for MX / FMX?

  • Catmando says:

    I was thinking that this was an interesting product that might work well with extreme mountain biking but that was before I read what Matt wrote. Keeping with what he said I think he’s absolutely right. I can’t see how this could work with mountain biking…unless of course you include an AI that decides when to activate. Don’t think AI’s are a reality yet.

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