View Full Version : Summary: Research into extreme and futuristic sports technology

01-25-2010, 05:00 PM
Herewith the summary of responses to the request I forwarded from Suzy
Milburn of the BBC.


Will G Hopkins, PhD FACSM
Contact info: http://sportsci.org/will
Sportscience: http://sportsci.org
Statistics: http://newstats.org
Be creative: break rules.

From: Suzy Milburn [mailto:Suzy.Milburn@bbc.co.uk]
Sent: Tuesday, 26 January 2010 4:09 a.m.
To: Will Hopkins
Subject: RE: Research into extreme and futuristic sports technology

Hello all,

Thank you for the many and varied emails that I received! Although they
covered a wide range of topics, I would say the one line summary is that the
general trend in sports research seems to be towards a focus on detailed
observation and feedback on performance. I have tried to include as much of
the information you all shared with me as possible, but have had to exclude
some for reasons of length!

Training and observation:

>From the emails I received, I have gathered that a lot of work is being done
analysing the motion of athletes performance, e.g. 3D motion capture. I
received several emails about about data capture, analysis and modelling.
The majority of recipients think training improved by real time feedback and
modelling is the way forwards for improvements in sport performance.

There is a lot of work into detailed observation, such as being done by
Matthew Brodie [brodiephd@gmail.com] who has developed a wearable motion
capture system (using GPS and inertial sensors attached to the athlete) for
improving athlete performance in Alpine ski racing.

Kim Bigelow , Dept Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of
Dayton, Ohio, [bigeloke@notes.udayton.edu]

Worked on placing strain gages into the starting blocks of the Japanese
Olympic Track Team to help them train to maximize performance by getting
quantitative feedback of each start.

Thinks much of the future changes will centre on training tools such as real
time performance measuring.

Also informed me of GPS and similar instrumentation usage: by Carnegie
Mellon in american footballs to more objectively rule yardage, and by
another group to transmit to the coach when a player has sustained a head

Lucy Keighley [lucy.keighley@motionanalysis.com]

Motion Analysis systems are used in capturing movements of people, animals
or objects for a variety of applications ranging from Sports Analysis,
Animation, Broadcast, Film and Virtual Reality and 3D worlds. This
technology was used extensively by the England Cycling team leading up to
their successful performances in Beijing.

In the realms of 'extreme' technology,

Joel Stager [stagerj@indiana.edu] sent a paper analysing the effect of the
latest Speedo swimsuit on Beijing swim times. In effect, the LZR can improve
swim times by a very significant 1%. Also, Stager highlighted a chart
showing the number of world records set each year increases linearly from
the year after an olympics up to the next Games. He also highlighted current
research into wireless technology allowing us to measure and monitor
movement and physiological markers. Soon score boards will not just provide
time and score but pertinent markers of stress and or intensity.

Amby Burfoot [Amby.Burfoot@Rodale.com], Runner's World Magazine Editor,
suggested that robot-assisted training may begin to be used in biomechanics.
The idea is that the athlete would train in a robotic exoskeleton,
programmed to increase their pace by, say, 1 percent per week and perhaps
increase stride length or frequency or knee lift or footstrik, etc. This
sort of approach has been used in orthopaedic settings, but not known to be
used in sport yet.

Lee Childers at Georgia Tech [lee@gatech.edu] is researching euromuscular
control of a prosthesis during sport. This work has enhanced cycling for
amputees, specifically development of a prosthetic foot.

They also have interests in development of artificial muscle and measure
position and movement of intact cyclists: a 3D motion capture system, a
custom set of pedals that measure force between the shoe and the pedal, as
well as a system that measures when muscles turn on and off, and use this
data to advance performance.

Brad Lohmeyer, of Purdue University [jblohmeyer@gmail.com] told me about new
devices to enhance movement: the Lunocet fin for swimming and diving:
www.lunocet.com used for 'Hydrotouring', and "Power Risers", springy stilts:

Len Brownlie of NIKE told me that the sports giant will unveil some
impressive new sports technology at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Ian D. Wing, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory National
Wing, [Ian.Wing@jhuapl.edu]

Advances in sailing: High flying Moth foilers are one person skiffs which
use hydrofoils to lift the entire hull out of the water, letting them
screech along at speeds of over 50 kph. Engineered from advanced carbon
fiber composites, these boats have an "all-up" weight of around 30 kg,
giving them an incredibly high power to weight ratio.

Work into statistics:

Australian and New Zealand scientists have recently developed a method to
fairly compare athletes with different levels of disability. The approach
combines Extreme Value Theory with 'boot-strapping' techniques and could, in
principle, be used to determine the performance of the meet across all
events; or even the best athletic performances of all time for able-bodied
and disabled athletes!

John Zeleznikow [John.Zeleznikow@vu.edu.au] is working on data mining to
identify useful patterns for athlete choice and training/performance

The Department of Biomechanics, Kinesiology and Applied Computer Science,
ZSU University of Vienna Auf der Schmelz, are also working on Applied Game
and Competition Analysis


As well as: technological methods to support adolescent physical fitness;
Computer observation, analysis and diagnostics of various sporting
activities: archery, rowing, biathlon shooting, table tennis

There is a current project at the Australian Institute of Sport to see if
they could become internationally competitive from in