It was supposed to be a whim, but it could be a real revolution in ski jumping. We know the details
Just five years ago, Scaneca was just a small start-up. Founded in Germany’s “Sillicon Alley”, as the Adlershof district in Berlin is called after the American Silicon Valley, it quickly became a big name in the fitness industry, providing companies and gyms with a 3D scanner that measures the human body in just 30 seconds. Now the device has appeared in a completely new environment: it is used to measure ski jumpers before the season. Representatives of the German company announce that this is not all: they plan to help complete the revolution in ski jumping equipment control.
The Scaneca scanner appeared in ski jumping this summer. It is currently used to perform basic measurements of players. They are measured with this device before the season, so that the equipment controller of the International Ski Federation (FIS) can then compare the results with those obtained when checking competitors on the hill, but using the traditional method, without a scanner.
Recently We informed on Sport.pl that FIS will carry out basic measurements before the new World Cup season with a three-dimensional scanner : the competitors will be tested again in Ruka, during the first competition of the season. This is because some of them previously allegedly “manipulated underwear” during an inspection and were caught doing so by inspector Christian Kathol. In women, repetition or, as FIS calls it, “confirmation” of basic measurements is not planned.
The scanner for jumpers is manufactured by a company from the Berlin version of Silicon Valley. At the beginning, it was supposed to be just gym equipment
Scaneca was founded in 2018 by young scientists from the Humboldt University in Berlin: Nikolai Kozlov, Dzmitry Komar and Anton Jirka. They started with a start-up project, a small company headquartered in Adlershof in Berlin. It is a place well known for transforming small businesses into specialists in their industries. It is commonly called “Silicon Alley” in reference to Silicon Valley in California.
And in fact: if you look at the history of Adlershof, it has long been a place inextricably associated with the enormous development of institutes, projects and companies established there. It differs from Silicon Valley, however, mainly in the fact that here everything did not appear out of nowhere, but was quite clearly planned. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Johannistal airport and an aviation institute were established there. Even the famous brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright, considered to be the designers of the first airplane to fly, were supposed to work there. After World War II, twice as many people lived in Adlershof, called the “center of science, technology and media”, but the famous airport was closed.
In its place, the headquarters of its television, a scientific academy and a military base were established in the German Democratic Republic. All this provided jobs for thousands of people and brought the greatest specialists in their fields to Adlershof. After German reunification, a state corporation was established there, which helped in the development of new companies, and their number was constantly growing. In 2008, German media reported that only one of the 250 companies founded at that time had withdrawn from business. Currently, there are approximately 1,300 companies in the Technologiepark Adlershof, as the space for emerging entrepreneurs is called. This is all thanks to Brexit, which has made it even easier for them to develop rapidly in recent months.
A small project by Scaneca, which was intended to produce only devices measuring the bodies of people exercising in gyms, also became a brand in its industry. Its employees are considered one of the most important experts in the field of human body posture analysis, the product is presented at the largest trade fairs in Germany, and after its success, the company even moved from a small space in Adlershof to an office and warehouse space of a thousand square meters in Charlottenberg , much closer to the center of Berlin. And it expands its horizons.
The jumpers are scanned by four very precise sensors. “Advanced optical technology”
– Since introducing our product to the market in 2020, we have been aware of its potential. Already then, we started planning our development in such a way that the scanner could be used by various industries. Today, we are involved in cooperation with physiotherapists, orthopedists, health and beauty clinics, recreational hotels, rehabilitation centers and now also in professional sports – we hear from a company representative. – Scaneca is growing extremely rapidly and we are committed to its future. Cooperation with the FIS and involvement in ski jumping is currently our highest priority – he emphasizes.
Interest in the company’s product came during the fitness industry product fair in Munich in autumn 2022. Both Scaneca and FIS, which was represented by Christian Kathol, realized that this product could help make big changes and make it easier to control jumping equipment. This has been problematic for many years – everyone knows that manipulation, especially in the case of suits, has been and may continue to be present in the discipline for a long time. However, the 3D scanner was supposed to help reduce them. – Since December last year, in the following weeks we started a series of meetings and tests of equipment and its use in controlling jumpers. We also had to adapt the device and meet all the conditions so that the scanner could appear during basic pre-season measurements. In June this year, the operating system and our device were ready to introduce changes in equipment control – explains a representative of Scaneca.
– The scanner used by fitness companies is slightly different, and we had to make a few changes for jumpers – he adds. – It differs mainly in software, specially prepared for FIS so that it fits well with the specific discipline and control of competitors. It has four high-precision sensors and uses advanced optical technology to capture detailed three-dimensional data of the measured object. Each of these sensors shows a different perspective and is set at a different angle. This is where we get accurate and complete information.
FIS responds to jumpers’ manipulations. “It will help you avoid trouble”
However, since the introduction of the Scaneca scanner to carry out inspections, the topic has not ceased to be controversial. It has not subsided at all, on the contrary: FIS’s willingness to confirm the measurements from last season confirms that the solution is still not perfect. Activists tell us that there have never been such precise measurements in ski jumping, but at the same time we hear from the staff that they still have their own ways of manipulating the equipment to gain even more on the hill.
The worst thing is lining up for the measurement, because according to the players, everyone still doesn’t keep the same attitude. For those who can use it properly, it will mean profit on specific elements of the equipment: e.g. step height or the amount of material in the arms, i.e. factors affecting aerodynamics in flight. – The scanner allows us to examine both the body position and the athlete’s deviation. This makes manipulation more and more difficult, we hear from the manufacturer.
What about underwear, which players still have to stuff in various ways – e.g. with silicone? A representative of Scaneca tells us that changes have already been planned in response to the players’ manipulations. – In the future, FIS will specify the type of underwear that competitors should wear during inspections. This will help you avoid trouble in this matter. Other manipulations: bending the knees or turning the hips will not help the players, because the scanner detects it and alerts about the jumper’s inappropriate posture – our interlocutor points out.
And yet? It was supposed to be a whim, or maybe the completion of the revolution. “We are at the stage of software development”
What would help bring about a real revolution in player screening? A 3D scanner would be a dream, but one that would enable the control of jumpers during World Cup competitions. Until now, it was considered a whim, and people from the FIS community confirmed to us that it was an expensive and, for now, almost impossible solution. And yet, the words we hear from the Scaneca representative give an interesting and quite positive perspective on the future of this project.
– We have already held discussions with the FIS regarding the development of our device in such a way as to adapt it for use during World Cup competitions. We are currently at the stage of software development to adapt it to the conditions of control at the competition site and to properly compare its results with the results obtained during basic pre-season measurements – describes our interlocutor.
These are definitely the most specific announcements regarding this type of device that have been made so far in the discussion on the future of equipment control in jumping. And if the FIS decided to make such a move – paying for and introducing 3D scanner control on the ski jumping hill, who knows whether the revolution announced by the activists would not be completed. Finally, we could say that in this respect discipline has become more fair.
However, this requires a lot of commitment and a lot of money. Scaneca states that every country can purchase their equipment and they are open to making it available in such a way that the staff can test it outside the pre-season basic measurement. However, they do not reveal how much it costs each national team or how much the FIS itself pays for the scanner. According to unofficial information, the cost of this equipment is approximately 10-20 thousand euros. And one for even more complicated control on the hill would certainly be more expensive. Hopefully it won’t be so expensive that FIS will abandon this idea.