It’s hard to imagine how mixed-martial-arts competitions like the Ultimate Fighting Championship could be made more exciting, but an Australian company has a few suggestions: outfit the fighters in high-tech armor and give them weapons.
Unified Weapons Master has created Lorica, a suit of amor equipped with a point-of-view camera, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, a microphone and 52 pressure sensors that relays data to an external computer program. Composed of flexible, lightweight material and named after the armor worn by Roman legions, the Lorica suit could finally allow fighters to bring weapons — like staffs or nunchakus — into the ring.
David Pysden, CEO of Unified Weapons Master, told CNN the response from martial artists who’ve seen the suit has been overwhelming. “We literally have heard from hundreds and hundreds of people who have been practicing for 20 or 30 years in weapons-based arts who have had no true way to test their skills without seriously injuring someone, or worse,” he said.
The Lorica suit’s primary function would be protect fighters, but the impact sensors are it’s real innovation. They’re designed to transmit a series of impact statistics, such as where and how hard a blow was landed. “We know the damage that would have occurred to an unprotected competitor if they weren’t wearing the suit, and we can display that in real time,” Pysden said.
Fighters would score points with successful blows, as the impact sensors could potentially eliminate the need for referees or judges. Combine all this with a system that’s highly suitable for letting fans plug in to the action for a more connected experience, and you have what Pysden thinks are the makings of popular sport. He says the company is currently negotiating with several production companies about broadcasting a tournament of weapons masters wearing the suits. The tournament could happen later this year or in early 2015.
“You look at the popularity of combat sports in video games — the public loves seeing people fight with weapons,” he said. “We can throw a Samurai master against a Chinese Shaolin staff master and see who comes out on top.”
Credit: Unified Weapons Master