Unified Weapons Master offers high-tech gladiatorial combat

Two combatants clad in high-tech armour battle it out with classic weaponry in a modern arena. That's sport of the future according to Unified Weapons Master.

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It sounds like something from a cyberpunk novel: people in futuristic carbon fibre armour engaged in furious weapons-based combat, the results meticulously recorded by high-tech sensors and sent to judges for scoring.

Luckily for fans of unusual sport, there's nothing fictional about it. This is Unified Weapons Master -- an ongoing project to create a sporting environment for weapons-based martial artists to show off their skills.

It's the brainchild of a group of Aussies -- David Pysden, Justin Forsell, and Samantha English -- all of whom share a love of martial arts and an interest in technology.

The suit is known as the Lorica -- a Latin word for armour -- and the design is a blend of Robocop, Master Chief, and maybe even a dash of Tony Stark.

It's made of multiple layers of protective materials embedded with sensors that can detect not only where the armour is struck, but how hard.

As Pysden says in the video above, the blow's strength is then compared to biomedical data about injuries to determine what scoring is given for the strike.

It allows for the combatants to use the full extent of their weapons training, without fear of serious injury and without the need to reduce the strength of their blows.

UWM hopes to have the first competitions up and running as soon as next year. In the meantime, the team is continually refining the Lorica.

"At the moment, someone in the suit could certainly do a roll in it if needed, but we're looking to keep refining that articulation and mobility," says Pysden.

The company has just finalised a Series B round of funding and the work continues unabated. In addition to the suit, UWM is continuing to tweak the scoring system based on feedback from people testing the Lorica.

So next year, when you turn on the TV to watch Gladiators, it won't be people in padded helmets trying to knock each other off a platform if UWM has its way. Instead you'll be watching the kind of combat that hasn't been seen, according to Pysden, "since the days of the Coliseum."

 

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