Red Bull Case Study
Red Bull is known as a major sponsor of action sports from race cars to football teams and even League of Legends players. Back in 2014, when the Red Bull Surf Science division wanted to apply technology to surfing to enhance athletes’ performance, they looked to PPS to help them achieve one of the most critical insights to surfing - foot pressure during surfing as a measure of how athletes drive and control their boards. PPS was selected as one of only a handful of other technology companies to quantify the physical and visual aspects of surfing in this legendary project.
Using one of our core products, the Foot Pressure Mapping system, PPS set out to develop the Pressure Sensing Surf Booties for Red Bull. PPS has developed pressure mapping insoles before, but this application required the ability to withstand higher and more rapid foot pressure changes of an action sport application while also withstanding the onslaught of ocean water.
PPS has long been developing sensors of various full-scale ranges for delicate medical applications to rugged industrial applications. Our expertise led us to easily address the first problem with careful sensor and electronics design, using laser cutting to make the unique insoles and proprietary techniques to produce the layered sensor assembly. We then waterproofed the sensor using hydrophobic polyurethane lamination and designed a custom 3D-printed waterproof housing for the electronics. Another benefit of PPS’s system was the wireless, Bluetooth technology that freed the surfers from having to wear bulky electronic packs while trying to catch waves. The final design was an elegant surf bootie that looked like any other on the market but sporting a small electronics case on the side that did not interfere with surfing.
The PPS Pressure Sensing Surf Booties were completed with quick turnaround time and were tested by elite surfers in Mexico to great success. As surfers rode, carved, and cutback on waves, the system captured and analyzed pressure distribution across their feet, which could be reviewed by the coach live during the surf session and after by both surfer and coach. The system exhibited repeatable performance and successfully prevented water ingress.