Protolabs helps Soccerment develop smart shin pads for football data collection
Startup company Soccerment turned to Protolabs to help them develop a pair of smart shin pads that tracks, monitors, analyses and shares a footballer’s performance data through a dedicated app and dashboard.
Their aim was to develop a solution that could capture key data for all football players, including those in lower leagues and younger players, to help teams understand and improve their game. They needed a product that is worn by every player in matches that not only performs it’s intended function but can also capture relevant data.
The result, XSEED are smart shin pads that can record both athletic data such as distance run, maximum speed, numbers of sprints and acceleration as well as technical data such as the number of passes, crosses, shots and shot power. It’s ability to record and geolocate events on the game’s playing surface is a key breakthrough.
The company’s challenge was to develop a shin guard that has a frame that houses two accelerometers, a gyroscope, magnetometer, GPS antenna, Bluetooth module and its battery, all weighing less than 100g. It also had to be PPE certified and meet strict regulations for its mechanical strength and pass a number of tests to secure CE certification.
After Protolabs tested a number of materials, Soccerment chose a black polycarbonate-siloxane co polymer. Protolabs then produced prototypes using rapid injection moulding ready for mechanical and design testing.
In addition, Soccerment also needed an opaque material to produce a light guide for the LED at the top of the shin pad. Protolabs suggested a natural white translucent nylon refined through embossing, a solution that they had developed for another customer Befreest, and then assembled this directly onto the frame using its secondary gluing service.
By working with Soccerment in the initial design phase, Protolabs only manufactured two moulds to produce four different pieces, the right and left shin guards and the right and left light guides. This helped keep the production cost down for the startup company.
From prototype to manufacture
From these moulds an initial production run of 80 pairs of these smart shin guards were produced to validate and test the initial design.
Subsequent improvements were completed without remoulding because:
- Using aluminium moulds made it easy to make changes directly on them
- Some secondary and additional services realised others. For example, a laser process etched the words right and left onto the moulds.
|At A Glance|
Soccerment had to develop a plastic frame quickly for its smart data gathering football shin guard so that it could get the certifications needed for personal protection equipment.
Using Protolabs rapid injection moulding, the design specification requirements were met for the first 80 pairs of shin guards in time for testing.
Following this testing and some subsequent improvements, the XSEED smart wearables are a first in football. They are now available to purchase on the Soccerment.com website for both amateur and professional players and clubs who are looking to get objective and easy-to-use data. This will help them analyse and improve their performance significantly over time.
Talking about the project, Federico Frellicca, Chief Designer said: “Protolabs helped us secure a pre series quickly for a lower investment while also working with us towards a partial final design. This ensured that we could move forwards with the certification process and our data testing and collection to train our neural networks and optimise the firmware. Their secondary and additional services paved the way to a final product from a single set of moulds. They were always reliable with good technical advice to help us find the best solution. And just as important, they enabled us to work incrementally to support our growth.”
XSEED is now an essential smart wearable in football. It allows teams and clubs to monitor all biometric, performance and field positions of players in both training and matches. The Soccerment portal can receive and reprocess thousands of data inputs and visualise and make them usable immediately. Ultimately this data will help clubs make better more impartial footballing decisions.
Protolabs has helped numerous startups optimise the development of their innovations. The company offers the flexibility of digital production, a wide choice of materials, manufacturing advice, technical expertise plus manufacturing and post manufacturing services.