Icon 137: Sport 01.10.14

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Out on 3 October, our November issue looks at wearable tech, Singapore's national stadium, prosthetics and the politics of sporting legacy

"Drive like a girl," the car ad promises, and you'll get a discount on your insurance (the European Court ruled such discounts discriminatory, so they're now available to boys too).

The company fits a black box under your steering wheel that monitors your speed, how you corner, how smoothly you drive. Other insurers have followed suit, with apps that transform your smartphone into a similar device. They turn surveillance into a game by scoring your every journey, and drivers are encouraged to collect skill badges and to measure their ratings against friends.

Now the idea of "derisking", as it's known, seems to be spreading to healthcare. As the NHS faces massive cuts, and the government explores an Americanised version of private care, are insurance premiums going to be judged on the data we willingly provide through wearable gadgets?

As Sam Jacob reports in this issue, large companies in the US are already providing their employees with health monitoring equipment, allowing bosses to collect and scrutinise data on every calorie burnt, pace stepped and hour slept.

It's a level of surveillance reminiscent of Henry Ford's sinister Sociological Department, a group of investigators who monitored employees, making unannounced visits to their homes to judge if they were living up to their paternalistic employer's standard of health, cleanliness and morals. Now voluntary electronic tags do much of this same work.

We sent Jacob two of these unassuming candy-coloured devices, the Jawbone and Fitbit (one to be worn on each wrist), and asked him to explore this possibly dark future.

We also explore how high-tech prosthetics might change the future of sport and, hopefully, prejudices about disability. And we visit the new National Stadium in Singapore, with its impressive retractable roof.

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Words

Christopher Turner

 

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As Sam Jacob reports in this issue, large companies in the US are already providing their employees with health monitoring equipment, allowing bosses to collect and scrutinise data on every calorie burnt, pace stepped and hour slept

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IN THIS ISSUE

Wearable tech Self-improvement gadgets let us monitor our bodies, but what do they mean for our souls?

Singapore National Stadium A flexible stadium with a retractable roof sits at the heart of a new sporting mega complex in Singapore

Prosthetics How artificial, carbon-fibre limbs have transformed both athletics and everyday attitudes to disability

Sporting legacy The politics of architecture and planning that comes into play after the fireworks of closing ceremonies

Plus

A sports hall in Brazil by Herzog & de Meuron, the funny faces of Bertjan Pot, 125 years of Bernhardt Design, the Leadenhall Building by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Industrial Facility's recycled plastic chair, Renzo Piano's Pathé Foundation in Paris and Helsinki Design Week

Reviews: Horst at the V&A, rebel architects on TV, Wim Wenders' cultural landmarks, and a trip to the Folkestone Triennial

Private view: The 1984 Olympic Games

Crimes Against Design: Formula 1 cars

Rethink: Design Project updates the Country Code

Icon of the Month: The photo finish

Five most wanted: Alfredo Häberli picks five products

   

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