Some time back in the 2000’s we began developing a boxing technology for the AIS, it was exciting times and heady stuff (see Boxing Force Suit). The work was carried on by former Chief Scientist of the AIS Prof. Allan Hahn with many partners across Australia. We are delighted to announce there will be a demonstration of the current technology on Sunday, October 20th. But first here is a bit more about the technology from Prof Hahn
Box’Tag is a modified form of boxing that is underpinned by technology. It has been designed to maximise the safety and enjoyment of participants. Impacts to the head and forceful impacts are prohibited. Scoring is automated and can be displayed in real time. Participants in Box’Tag contests wear T-shirt style instrumented vests and gloves with patches of conductive material affixed to their surfaces. The vests incorporate vertical stripes of silver-coated nylon yarn through which a low-level electric current generated by a worn mini-transceiver can be run. When the conductive area of a glove bridges two vest stripes, a change in the electrical resistance of the vest occurs. The electrical resistance is monitored via the worn transceiver, which wirelessly sends the data to a ringside computer where customised algorithms are applied to determine whether a point should be registered. Very light impacts can be detected.
The algorithms can be adjusted to reward particular styles of boxing. The latest version of the software permits a contestant to score up to four times per second, but also imposes a maximum of four points for any running 3-second period. This encourages strategies involving long-range as opposed to sustained close-quarters engagement, and places emphasis on skill and speed rather than aggression. The deployment of the technology is therefore shaping the very nature of the sport. The technology also can be creatively used during training sessions as an aid to skill acquisition.
Despite the rules aimed at risk reduction, Box’Tag contestants wear protective equipment, including head guards, mouth guards, chest guards (females) and groin protectors (males) as insurance against accidental violations. To further enhance safety, attempts are being made to develop specialised Box’Tag gloves with substantial impact absorbance capabilities. Several prototypes based on different methodologies have been produced and tested. Gloves that can measure impact forces, and so allow automatic deduction of points when forces exceed a predetermined threshold level, also are under development.
Box’Tag programs are now operating at clubs in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and the NSW coastal town of Ulladulla. In 2011, a pilot program was very successfully run at a Brisbane school. Box’Tag was introduced into the Victorian Police & Emergency Services Games in 2012, 23 years after the exclusion of conventional boxing due to safety concerns. It was retained this year and in 2014 will be included in the Australasian Police & Emergency Services Games. There has been continual formal and informal dialogue with participants to obtain ideas and direction on how to improve the quality of their experience. This has led to development of new training and competition models. For example, the possibility of using data collected during bouts to calculate a ‘bout quality index’ is presently being investigated. The index would enable competition between bouts in terms of technical excellence, as opposed to just competition between participants within bouts.
Although the skills and fitness characteristics required by Box’Tag resemble those associated with conventional boxing, there are some clear differences that have necessitated the development of Box’Tag-specific training activities. It has become evident that many people enjoy taking part in these activities even if never intending to go on to compete. The potential to build a participation base is therefore greater than initially envisaged. There is an opportunity to support and augment the training activities through further implementation of appropriate technologies.
The Box’Tag project is aimed at adding an entirely new dimension to the concept of boxing. The vision for the modified sport is that it should be highly inclusive, community-orientated and nurturing, and should offer a means for engaging people who are marginalised from mainstream sports but for whom boxing could be attractive. There are definite cultural hurdles to be addressed, but innovative technologies can help to overcome them.
Historically, the Box’Tag project has been a highly collaborative endeavour, with inputs from the Cooperative Research Centre for Microtechnology, universities, CSIRO, engineering companies, sports institutes and academies, a national sporting federation and community sporting clubs. Queensland organisations, particularly Griffith University and the QAS Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science Research, have played prominent roles.
Box’Tag is still undergoing rapid, technologically-driven evolution. Recent grants from the International Olympic Solidarity Commission and the QAS Centre of Excellence have spawned a project directed at enabling increased community uptake of Box’Tag. As part of this project, workshops are to be held in various locations around Australia. The first will take place in Brisbane on Sunday 20 October. It will be highly interactive. The purpose is to show the current stage of development, and to obtain feedback and ideas regarding optimal future focus. Consequently, the workshop will have both ‘Product Demonstration’ and ‘Product Development’ components.
Attached is the invitation and details Flyer for Brisbane Box’Tag workshop
to attend please register at boxtag.org.au/workshop