3D motion capture suit aids sports research

3D motion-capture suit aids sports research
An innovative body suit armed with a camera-less measurement system and a range of tracking sensors is helping researchers at Sunderland University develop improvements in a range of sporting activities.

The MNV Biomech is a 3D human kinematic system with integrated small tracking sensors placed on the joints. These tracking sensors are designed to communicate wirelessly with a computer to capture every twist and turn ?f the body, before displaying the information as a 3D set of data on screen.

The brainchild of Dutch firm Xsens, the body suit was previously used to create the animated alien in the science fiction movie 'Paul'. The Sunderland researchers, however, are making use of it in areas such as biomechanics, sports science, rehabilitation and ergonomics.

Dr Bob Hogg, senior lecturer in Sports Technology at the university, said: "The suit allows us to take 3D motion capture out of the lab and into the real world.

"Due to the cost, the technology has predominantly been used in the military and entertainment industries, but the university believes the investment in this new piece of equipment will prove invaluable to our research projects as it has endless possibilities, which really could make a life changing difference to people's lives, professionally and personally."

Each of the 17 sensors on the suit consists of accelerometers, magnetometers and a gyroscope. Together they measure acceleration, postural position relative to the magnetic field of the earth and orientation.

"The data is available for every single joint and segment, so there are literally tens of thousands of data points," explained Dr Hogg. "The main problem is analysing it all."

Hogg and his team have already used the suit to investigate lumbar spine issues and help improve the efficiency of dressage riders.

They are now looking to help wheelchair athletes by using The MNV Biomech to measure biomechanical efficiency and power output, which they believe could have benefits for their health and professional performance.

"Another area where we are sharing our equipment and knowledge is with our post-registration nurses; where we hope to improve their postural positions when lifting patients, which adds a health and safety element to the research," concluded Hogg.

The university is keen to work with both the public sector and private companies who may wish to utilise the suit for their own research projects.

Laura Hopperton

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