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State-of-the-ART in 3D Movement/Motion Monitoring: Inquiry and Presentation Opportunity

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  • State-of-the-ART in 3D Movement/Motion Monitoring: Inquiry and Presentation Opportunity

    I work with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
    (NIOSH) in the United States and am interested in determining the
    "state-of-the-art" in the area of 3D movement and motion monitoring. I wish
    to locate and communicate with researchers who are working in this area for
    two reasons:
    1. I am seeking those who might have an interest in presenting a paper at a
    jointly sponsored NASA/NIOSH conference in June of 2001 to describe their
    work in this area.
    2. I am seeking a better way to monitor and evaluate human work activity;
    i.e., a better way to assess the biomechanical demands that occur when
    humans perform physical work (for example, lifting and carrying boxes).
    Accordingly, I am searching for human motion measurement technologies that
    can monitor and record the movements of the major joints of the human body
    while MINIMIZING the spatial constraints and physical limitations that must
    be placed upon the wearer. (Something that would be usable in an actual work
    For our research, we need to be able to monitor and record the positions of
    the joints of the human body (ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and
    wrists) in 3 dimensions, and then be able to calculate the directions and
    velocities of the movements of these joints, and finally, derive estimates
    of the forces involved and the work done by the worker. Ideally, we would
    like to learn of a system that could be integrated into, embedded in, or
    easily placed upon clothing that could be worn by workers as they perform
    their tasks (for example, a "spandex"-type suit or other close-fitting
    I thoroughly appreciate that this is not a new concept; however, with the
    advances of the past decade in terms of miniaturization, enhanced computing
    power, and advanced sensors and measurement capabilities, etc., I am hoping
    to find researchers with biomechanical backgrounds who are collaborating
    with researchers who are expert in the use of fiber optics, gyroscopes
    (and/or other technologies with position sensing capabilities) that are
    working towards--or have already developed--such a system.
    The initial integrated technology need would appear to be for a the motion
    monitoring/recording system that imposes minimal physical and spatial
    constraints. From my limited appreciation of what is going on, it may be
    that the hoped-for system will reflect some collaboration between those
    associated with the Virtual Reality technologies, Graphic Arts, or TV/film
    industry (reflecting their efforts to more rapidly produce animation video)
    and those working in the area of physical rehabilitation (concerned with the
    assessment and evaluation of physical movement and physiological costs).
    I am familiar with the video-camera-based technologies that require the use
    of reflective balls attached to the person, and I've read about the
    technology that uses an "exoskeleton" is coupled with sensors at the joints
    and with a gyroscope (Gypsy's approach to the collection of data for film
    animation-development [see their web site:]), but
    the former is significantly limited by "line-of-sight" considerations (and
    requires a lot of post-processing time to obtain usable data), and the
    latter is too awkward and is not very compatible with use in actual work
    sites (for example warehouses) where it can too easily be bumped or "catch
    on to" objects in the work environment. I've been told (Measurand, in
    Canada: that the use of fiber optics to evaluate
    light transmission times is apt to be the technology that would be most
    likely to meet our needs (it is now being used to measure individual joint
    angles, but I am told that it is also likely that by incorporating
    pre-formed bends in the strands, and using multiple strands, this approach
    will also be able to measure distances). If true, then it appears that one
    could embed lengths of fiber optic wires into something like a "spandex
    suit" and then couple that with a gyroscope and/or some other means of
    monitoring location and orientation and achieve something like the
    instrumentation suite I need. (Monitoring translation would remain a
    concern, however.)
    I have also read of a Russian-developed "virtual suit"
    ( with considerable interest.
    (It appears to be somewhat similar to the technology being used by
    "Intersense" [see their web site:].) However, I have been
    unable to obtain any more information regarding the "virtual suit" beyond
    that which appeared on the web site.
    Textile researchers at Georgia Tech in the US are also developing a "smart
    shirt" (a computer to be worn like a shirt: that incorporates fiber-optic
    threads and is capable of supporting a variety of sensors.
    As inferred earlier, it is apt to be a team of researchers using ideas from
    several technical areas that will likely produce the system with the
    capability that seems needed. I can imagine from a technology transfer
    perspective, that a "product line" would evolve that would span a range of
    * Research Lab Tool. At the high end would be an integrated
    university/laboratory research system that was capable of relatively high
    resolution and accuracy that monitored all of the major joints of the major
    limbs of the body. (Ideally, one that was also compatible with the
    capability to monitor the principal 'physiological cost' parameters--or
    better yet, integrated that capability into the system.)
    * Industrial Job Assessments; Home Physical Rehab Units. At the
    next level would be a reduced system that monitored only a subset of these
    joints--those that proved most effective in predicting muscle loading or
    physiological costs--that would be much less costly and be used by industry
    to monitor their workers to determine whether the requirements of a
    workstation or job posed a risk or exceeded standards--or lesser systems
    developed for particular, home-based physical therapy applications.
    * Video Game Interface; Grammar School Teaching Aid. And at the
    lowest, least inexpensive level would be one that was compatible with use by
    children (adults, too) and served as the interface for real-time interaction
    with video games (like those from Nintendo, Sony, etc.), or those developed
    for interactive teaching modules in grammar schools. (I hear that at
    SIGRAPH this year, one of the major video game manufacturers was going to
    produce an interactive 'kick-boxing' system that would be sold at a price
    that was comparable with other game interface products--so the development
    in this area seems feasible and has already begun.)
    If any of you are working in this area, or if you know of someone who is, I
    would very much appreciate the opportunity to communicate with you (or them)
    regarding your (or their) work and/or interest in making a presentation at
    the joint NASA/NIOSH conference.
    Thank you for your time!

    Aaron W. "Ron" Schopper, Ph.D.
    Chief, Engineering & Control Technology Branch
    Health Effects Laboratory Division, NIOSH
    M/S: PO4/2027, Rm. L-2203
    1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505
    Phone: 304-285-6171/6073 Fax: 304-285-6265

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