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Innovation Essay

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Australian Innovation Case Study By Christine Hatt

Fast Skin® LZR Racer

An evolution of Speedo's revolutionary Fast Skin® suit

Description of Innovation:

The LZR Racer Suit is a line of high-end swimsuits manufactured by Speedo using a high-technology swimwear fabric composed of woven elastane-nylon and polyurethane. The suit based on a design and was made for men and woman who are professional swimmers that need more flexibility. The suits are fast drying and offer low skin friction drag. The bonded seams create a perfectly smooth yet flexible surface. The swimwear is based on fast movements and the ability to be the fastest swimwear around. It has been created to advance Speedos former leading design "Fast Skin" that was introduced into competitive swimming in the year 2000.

The swimsuit bears many similarities to that of a shark. After a detailed study it was concluded that its movement in the water and texture of skin is not dissimilar to humans. It utilizes a super stretch fabric that firstly improves fit and help to compress muscles to reserve energy. The specialized seams on the suit are the main source of drag reduction. The construction of fabric itself also encourages a reduction in drag.

Who are the designers behind the innovation?

The Fast Skin LZR Racer was developed in association with the Australian Institute of sport, with the help of Speedos sponsored athletes such as Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Leisel Jones, Park Tae-Hwan, and Kate Ziegler. Speedo used NASA to help design the suit. Yup, rocket scientists. Speedo's Aqualab research team also drawing on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software from ANSYS. International fashion label Comme des Garçons' founder Rei Kawakubo also contributed to the aesthetic of the design.

What were all the factors at the time that lead to the development of this innovation?

What was the need?

The technology in the LZR Racer, is aimed at the upcoming Beijing Olympics, makes FASTSKIN even faster. Speedo made a splash with its first FASTSKIN swimwear at the 2000 Summer Olympics; these suits were worn in 80 percent of Sydney's medal-winning performances. The innovation was produced for professional swimmers and that need a reliable swimsuit. Sportsmen need a more durability and enhance the swimmers performance.

Why is there this need?

As the world begins to develop more innovative improvements in technology every day, they were bound to produce sportswear to enable an individual to perform better. This was shown the Beijing Olympics which proved to be an unprecedented success for the LZR Racer, with 94% of all swimming races won in the suit. In total 23 out of the 25 world records broken, were achieved by swimmers competing in the LZR suit and 36 Olympic medals have been won wearing it.

Consider at least five of these factors affecting the innovation:

Social:

As a society, we are becoming both curious and confident with the capabilities of technology. This cultural attitude encourages innovators to continue their work. We are now reaching highly competitive stage in our sports culture. So in this sense the suit is immensely welcome. Technology develops with society and so generally we are open to changes. However, some feel that culturally this is not fair Anne Tatko states, "Technology is the key to understanding performance and exploiting it." Some people would be inclined to place the suit under the category of "cheating"; however since it's currently legal acceptance these options are dismissed.

Economic:

The funding of the innovation is one of the most important factors that affect the success of an innovation. Since Speedo is the world's most successful swimwear company worldwide, it is fair to assume that funding for the innovation was no strain. Though having support and positive publicity can help lower the risk. -+

Emerging technologies:

Emerging technologies have an immense role in success of an innovation. Before one can be successful technological advancements need to be available for a design to even be classed as an innovation. No doubt many of the technologies used in the development of Fast Skin LZR Racer initiated the innovation process.

Legal:

There a variety of agencies that has played a role in the legal implementation of the innovation.

* The patents office of Australia allows the development and recognition of an innovation. The patents office judges' wether the invention is new and ensures it meets necessary legislative requirements.

* As a larger company, Speedo has its own protection already in place to secure that it's a designs and innovations are safe from the threat of copyright.

* IP Australia is a federal Government agency that grants rights in patents, trademarks and designs. The use of this agency in relation to Fast Skin LZR RACER.

Marketing:

The positive reputation of the Speedo Company is a large factor in the willingness of athletes, coaches and the media to respond positively to this innovation. As a result of FINA's ruling, the suit must be made available to all Australian competitors, making marketing and sales care for itself. The use of the suit in the 2008 Beijing Olympics emphasises the masses of winners using the suit and further promotes the suit.

Describe and illustrate the development and key technological aspects of the innovation.

Research and testing.

Fast Skin has further improved their swimsuits from Fast Skin FSII to Fast Skin LZR RACER which furthered on the creation process:

* The first of which is body scanning, this was to create completely accurate mannequins, unique to each individual user. The Speedo team worked with NASA research centre to develop and test drag reduction and skin friction. The materials tested come in the form of tubes. Wilkinson a researcher from NASA stretches the tubes over a smooth, flat aluminum plate and then secures the edges with smooth metal rails and tape to form a precise rectangular model shape. Wilkinson runs the material through a number of wind speeds and, with the help of sensors, measures drag on the surface.

* The

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