Technology has taken hold as one of the most prominent pieces of our lives, and 2016 only perpetuated that ideology.
The world of action sports was no exception. We saw new companies put forward innovative ideas, and heritage brands reinventing what made them great in the first place, with an eye to the future.
While there were so many it would be hard to recap them all, here are a few of the top advances in technology that caught our eye in 2016:
“Back to the Future” has got nothing on this. 2016 was the year that Nike achieved what many called a pipe dream, and debuted the world’s first-ever self-lacing shoe.
Although the price point for the shoe was high, that was nothing compared to the hype and excitement that we saw surrounding its release.
Just making it into 2016’s round-up, this December Burton released a creative spin on an old concept: Step On bindings.
Most of us know the step in bindings of our past – the clunky, hard-to-master counterparts to the standard binding. Burton flipped the script on what was a written-off product, and reinvented the Step On for modern riders.
Drawing on the technology advancements of Boa lacing and using their own in-house team of snowboard experts and 3D printing technology, Burton endlessly tested the Step On boot and binding prototypes until they got them just right.
GoPro Karma and Hero 5
With an exciting global launch event in Squaw Valley this year, GoPro delivered several new products to the market that revolve around tech.
Not only did the Karma drone make its debut, but GoPro also one-upped itself in the camera department with the Hero5 Black and Session. The most innovative features on the 5 cameras include voice recognition commands (“GoPro Record”) which allow for hands-free filming and photos. The cameras waterproof capabilities, and with the 5 Black’s 2-inch touchscreen, have also made enabling the stabilization mode and enhancing audio a breeze.
Who would have thought that by 2016 surfers would have a way to repel sharks through wearable technology? Made with surfers and beach goers in mind, Sharkbanz utilizes magnetic tech to keep sharks at bay.
When a shark approaches, the device sends out magnetic waves that disrupt the electro-magnetic receptors of the shark, causing it to turn away. Not a bad idea to strap one of these guys on for peace of mind the next time you’re spending some time in the water.
Levi’s Project Jacquard technology was developed to turn the fabrics that we commonly think of as just clothing into interactive surfaces. Yes, you heard that right.
The next step in wearable technology, Project Jacquard weaves tech (similar to what’s used for touchscreen on our devices) into the surface of the fabric, using conductive yarn.
The developers behind Project Jacquard are moving to take what we do on our smartphones to our clothes, enhancing face-to-face communication.
“I believe that the meaning of clothing and our understanding of its value and place in our lives is about to change," says Paul Dillinger, Levi vice president of global product innovation. "As advanced technologies begin to weave themselves into our clothing, we have an opportunity to re-write the relationship with the objects that we buy and wear."
No, we’re not talking about the hoverboards that caught fire, we’re talking about literal hoverboards here.
This year, we saw expansion on the concept of flying through the air on a board. First, in 2015 there was the Lexus hoverboard, which seemed to usher in the era of levitation.
In 2016, we saw the Flyboard, produced by Zapata Racing, which broke the world record for farthest flight on a hoverboard at 1.4 miles. Zapata Racing is said to be working on a consumer-facing version of the board.
Welcome to the future.