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Olympic TRIZ

Olympic TRIZ

| On 12, Aug 2008

Ellen Domb

Thanks to BusinessWeek for doing all the research for this article, Olympic Innovation (, they have a great slide show and article about the innovations in Olympic equipment, whether non-Olympic athletes can buy it, and if yes, the details.  The range is pretty extreme:  

  • US$24 for a swim cap that doesn’t wrinkle  (I saw Michael Phelps wearing it over his older-style cap) and covers the ears.  Apparently both wrinkles and ears are terrible turbulence generators, and when medals depend on hundredths of a second, you need to eliminate those generators.
  • US$25,000 for a bicycle made from one piece of carbon fiber, with a lot of features to make it stable on rough terrain, fast, durable, and of course, lightweight.

I’m strictly a spectator for sports at this level, and I’ll admit that even my friend Darrell’s collection of golf tee patents and friend Sergei’s collection of toothbrush patents didn’t prepare me for the new volleyball patents.   

TRIZ teachers will get lots of new case studies by comparing these inventions to their predecessors.  TRIZ students can practice their skills—was there some contradiction in the previous generation system that the new system resolves?   What kind of contradiction?   What conceptual tool was used? Was there an obvious pattern of evolution?     Can you build a multi-screen model (or 9 Windows, or system operator?)   

You can use the methods I suggested a few weeks ago in the column called “Holiday TRIZ” or you can create your own method, but don’t let this great practice opportunity go to waste.   

Use the “comment” feature at the bottom of this column to tell us what you have found.   If we get 10 or more, I’ll make the topic of a new article.

Thanks in advance!