The progression of sport is often bolstered by the development of safety equipment. Allowing athletes to forgo that inner voice telling them to stop or slow down — and instead push harder — is what breaks records and pushes limits, and the Dainese D-air system is pushing the current limits of safety technology.
The D-air system is essentially an intelligent airbag integrated into a vest, jacket, or full leather suit. What makes the system intelligent is the load of electronics buried within the back protector. Consisting of three accelerometers and gyroscopes, GPS, 4 GB of internal memory, and a lithium battery, the D-air system ingests information quicker than any athlete. Once the brain detects an anomaly — decided by Dainese’s patented triggering algorithm — a pneumatic gas generator fills the airbag in 30 to 45 milliseconds without any human input — a blink takes 300 to 400 milliseconds.
Dainese started researching airbags for its motorcycle racing teams back in 2000 and has since undergone a variety of changes. Now, consumers can purchase the same tech used by the world’s top athletes and it’s designed to suit various sports and motorcycle riding styles. Dainese even adapted the D-air to work for snow skiing as well as street motorcycling use, with development currently underway for competitive sailing.
What allows the adaptation for multiple sports is Dainese’s triggering algorithm. Around 800 times per second, the algorithm takes a massive amount of data conveyed by the sensors and makes determinations on whether or not it should deploy. Having this sort of computing power allows Dainese to adjust its trigger points based on the needs of the sport.
In addition to safety, users also have access to the well of amassed data. Dainese’s Peter Bacon spoke to the future of the D-air system and the eventual integration of more user-friendly ways of analyzing rider data. This could mean an iPhone app down the road, but such development is still a few years in the making. The current data platform that’s available is called 2D and (allegedly) takes a degree in mechanical engineering to decipher — or so we were told.
While the algorithm may consist of code that’s easily altered, the impacts felt by athletes are not. Dainese improves their devotion to rider safety by altering its airbag layout based on the impacts most common for each sport. Collarbone collisions are commonplace in motorcycle racing while on the street, more chest protection is warranted. In skiing, special attention is given to the back.
All of Dainese’s D-air systems utilize its patented 3D airbag. What makes the 3D airbag special is its microfilament found throughout the interior of the bag, ensuring uniform inflation of 5 centimeters throughout. This uniform inflation is what allows the D-air to provide an 85 percent reduction in transferred force (3 kilonewtons) over traditional protection (23 to 24 kilonewtons).
While safety stats may never be the sexiest thing to talk about, walking away from a serious crash will always be a story that impresses. The D-air for street motorcycling is coming soon, with the Mugello R full suit coming later this year. However, the D-air Ski’s timeline for consumer use is still under development.