While we tend to notice remarkable athletes more than remarkable floors, the right sports flooring is critical to both the performance and the safety of the athletes who perform on it. It has to be resilient and long lasting, with the right amount of friction to allow twists and turns and prevent falling. Wooden floors like those made by market leader Junckers absorb forces better than those made of artificial materials, and studies have shown that athletes are less likely to sustain injury on a wooden floor than on a synthetic one.
But perhaps sports flooring of the future is neither asphalt nor wooden. It could be glass. A German company called ASB Systembau GMBH has designed a glass floor that can be combined with clever lighting to create moveable lines which are invisible until they are lit. The floor is an aluminium frame, which surrounds the glass and supports it, preventing breakages. In order to replicate the friction on a traditional wooden floor, the glass is covered with small ceramic dots. These burnt-in dots control friction and prevent slipping.
A layer of high powered LED lights underneath the floor form the boundary lines for various different sports when lit, so that no lines need be painted on the floor. No more confusion over which lines are for which sport – as only one set need be displayed at any one time, with the click of a button. And of course toughened glass is more durable than wood. What’s really innovative about this floor of the future is the ability to use the lines as guides, or barriers, so that alarms can sound when the ball hits the line, for example. Could this futuristic flooring change the future of sport?
ASB Systembau believe so – and are keen to point out that their new flooring will be ideal for showing logos or messages, or even to play adverts.