Creative Fields: Industrial Design, UX, Creative Technologies
Photography by Nicola Tree
Traka is a wearable biosensor for athletes in extreme environments.
Felix Pöttinger aims to design a smart wearable with the newest generation of EDA (Electrodermal Activity) sensors, which track the stress levels of professional athletes to capture their emotional condition. This data is being used to introduce a new approach to psychological training methods and coaching decision-making in sports. Designed specifically for professional mountaineers, it aims to minimise stress-induced poor decision-making in times of potential life-threatening situations.
The project deals with the so-called ‘mind traps’ - a psychological warping effect of the summit; when the ability to make a correct decision becomes dangerously skewed, a small error can quickly snowball into an irrecoverable fatal accident. This occurs even to the most experienced athletes in the sector. Latest research from the Harvard Medical School and the MIT Neuroscience Department shows that bad and risky decision making is related to high stress levels; the chronic activation of this survival mechanism in turn impairs health.
The product learns to interpret the emotional state of extreme athletes and gives an appropriate response in order to ensure the mental health and well-being of the athlete.
The project deals with a growing interest and discourse in the emotional connection between human and machine. In extreme sports athletes are constantly trying to boost their physiological performance. Their psychological states are often neglected, which can later lead to mental and physical health issues. Technology and the human body are increasingly convergent and the future of wearables must therefore be able to react not only to physiological but also psychological data.
Traka is a holistic wearable that incorporate psychological body signals, transforming them into feasible communication between athlete and machine in the future.The goal of this project is to raise awareness towards the emotional state of athletes and it proposes the integration of emotional and behavioral training to prevent accidents and mental health issues within professional sports.