Design methods were employed over a 5-year period to develop boxing gloves capable of substantially buffering impact forces delivered to an opponent, thereby permitting safer boxing. Multiple concepts were explored, with sophistication of prototypes gradually increasing. The protypes underwent both quantitative laboratory testing and qualitative evaluation in the field. The laboratory testing methods were evolved over time to enhance test reliability and ecological validity. Feedback from the laboratory and field trials was highly instrumental in guiding the process of glove development. It was eventually found that, compared to standard boxing gloves, pneumatic gloves with sealed bladders were effective in reducing peak impact forces and peak rates of force development when impact magnitudes were low to moderate but not when they were high. By contrast, pneumatic gloves incorporating a bladder enabling air exchange with the external environment were protective across the entire range of impact magnitudes likely to be encountered in boxing. These gloves are configured differently from standard gloves in terms of the positioning of the fist relative to the glove padding, but now have close visual resemblance to standard gloves. The aesthetics of the gloves have proven critical to their acceptance. Wearer comfort is also vital and, although we extensively pursued the concept of thumbless gloves, we finally deemed it necessary to include separate thumb compartments to accommodate user advice. There is scope for further glove refinement, but recent experience indicates that the latest version is currently sufficient for use in modified boxing programs that emphasise safety, with such targeted contextual sufficiency realising a fundamental aim commonly associated with projects employing the design approach. Small batches of the gloves have recently been manufactured to cater for modified boxing programs.
Perkins, P., Jamieson, A., Ferguson, G., Spratford, W., & Hahn, A. (2018). Iterative Design of Impact-Damping Gloves for Safer Boxing. Open Journal of Safety Science and Technology, 8(3), 49-97. https://doi.org/10.4236/ojsst.2018.83005