Summary of Jump/Timing devices
Here are the summary findings of jump/timing systems. We were looking
solutions for testing jump height, jump parameters (e.g., contact time,
power tests), and could do additional testing like whole body reaction
time. We are looking
to replace our broken NewTest Powertimer.
There appear to be three basic types of equipment; (1) jump/contact
mats, (2) optoelectronic
switches, and (3) accelerometry.
Jump (contact) Mat Systems
Standard stand alone contact mats are available in the USA and abroad,
for example the JustJump
Though relatively inexpensive compared to the other devices, contact
mats also have fewer
capabilities and do not seem to be able to be integrated with other
devices such as timing
lights. People using these devices tended to also use separate timing
light systems, such
as Brower SpeedTrap, or radar guns.
More complex systems, i.e., similar to the Powertimer, include the
System (KMS) from Fittech ( www.fittech.com.au ) and the SmartJump and
Both systems use a contact mat and light switches and use a PC for data
According to one user of the KMS, "We use ours for sprint timing and
agility testing. We don't
use the contact mat so much unless we have to test someone out in the
field. For lab work we
use their portable forceplates because you get much more data e.g.
force, impulse and power. "
Similarly, is the SmartJump and SmartSpeed Systems
One biomech-l'er commented, "We had a demo of the SmartSpeed system, it
impressive with a range of features and integrated with their jump
system but it did not really
meet our needs and is fairly expensive.
New to me was the Optojump system.
This system has 1 m bars laid on the ground parallel to one another. The
bars have optoelectronic
switches running along them at 1 cm resolution. According to one user,
"We use the optojump to
do field measurements of F, V and P in athletes with the simple method
attached, and we really
enjoy using it. The typical set is 2 bars of 1-m set apart (another
advantage is that you jump "freely"
between the bars, so very useful in field conditions; but you can add
meters (we have 5-m in our lab,
and we know colleagues in switzerland using a 20-m set to study running."
Another user said, "For the running test it has the advantage to measure
also the contact time of
the foot at each stride). The main disadvantage of the optojump system
is that you can use it only
on even surfaces. It is impossible to use it on a football field, for
example. I struggled a bit in using
it on a gymnastic tumbling, too. Other limitation, to use the Optojump
you need a laptop.
Also new to me was the Sensorize system ( www.sensorize.it ), which
includes the FreePower
and FreeSense systems. Essentially these are wearable triaxial inertial
sensors. One person
said, " I saw it once, and it seems a very smart product. It is an
accelerometer that can be used
for a number of tests such as running and jumping. It is wireless,
telemetric, small and light.
Apparently has very nice software, too. I am not sure, but it could be
that it is also waterproof."
Another person said, "FreePower is wearable, hence the evaluation can be
carried out on any
surface. All the parameters you mentioned can be obtained using this
system. We have such
a system in our department." I wish I could get more technical data
from these folks, as it
seems that this technology would be limited in what information it could
The multiple capability devices are expensive. (So was our original
Powertimer). Most do not
put prices on the websites, but required emailing for the info. (I have
not yet received
full price lists, so it would be imprudent to provide prices here.) I
was not happy with most of the
websites, which provided little information that I would consider
important, such as resolution and
reliability data. I'm still working on gathering these data.
Thanks to all who submitted information, and will be glad to hear from
others about the devices
Jeffrey C. Ives, Ph.D.
Professor and Graduate Program Chair
Dept. Exercise& Sport Sciences
Ithaca, NY 14850 USA