Equestrians must become proficient in relaying cues to their horses via subtle changes in riding posture. A well-trained horse will respond correctly—if the rider is cueing the horse appropriately. With a new smart saddle, riders are cued on their equestrian technique, in order to improve performance for both horse and rider.
Presently in functional prototype form, the device is being developed by scientists from the Inner Mongolia University of Technology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It consists of a conventional saddle, the top surface of which is equipped with seven small, thin, flexible disc-shaped pressure sensors. Each of incorporates a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), which take advantage of the triboelectric effect, a phenomenon in which an electrical charge accumulates in one material after it’s separated from another material with which it was in contact.
In the case of the saddle, electrical signals produced by the array of TENGs are capable of indicating if the rider is sitting upright, leaning back, leaning forward or standing up. The system can also wirelessly transmit a virtually immediate alert to someone else, if it detects that the rider has fallen off the horse.
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Nano.