To Wii Or Not To Wii

Application of Video Motion Capture

Technology is hard to keep up with – nowhere more so than in the video capture and evaluation of human movement.  When I completed my biomechanics thesis in the mid 1980’s this meant filming in high speed – 35 fps or better (TV is about 24 fps) then digitising 16 marker points for each consecutive frame, printing stick figures from each frame, hand measuring each joint angle with a pencil and protractor of each stick figure, then using this data to calculate angular velocities. For a single 10 second exercise it would take nearly 2 days to extract any meaningful data – my study had 8 woodchopping subjects each doing three repetitions – weeks of data analysis. Today this could be done in a day with more accuracy and analysis of more variables. Here is an interesting post on woodchopping.

Motion Analysis of Woodchopping 1984

Why is this important? Motion capture gives a researcher, coach, health practitioner or personal trainer  a quantitative tool to study “dynamic ergonomics” (physical parameters both in two & three dimensions) and qualitative tool in observing pure motion. This provides insights for understanding the physical limitations of users and/or a therapy/exercise products’ suitability for a task (particularly  in the early stage of a product development process rather than the later usability testing stage).

For some great research articles on motion capture and analysis in sport and exercise visit the Motion Time Journal. Subscribe for regular updates and abstracts.

Motion capture and analysis has been used extensively in sports such as golf and tennis for many years.  Here you have applications for teaching/coaching skills, competitor analysis and racquet or club suitability.  There have been a number of workshops held internationally that are worthwhile investigation – here is an example from the University of Sussex in 2010. There are also a number of very good short courses on the technology of motion capture – broad ranging as this technology is used primarily for CGI special effects (Movies like Iron Man 2) or video game development. Deakin University in Australia has a very well regarded course.

The ready availability of technology for home users that was once the exclusive province of scientists, will mean that more and more innovative applications are developed on a weekly basis.  We have seen its applications in Wii Fit and my mind boggles at the future applications of the Microsoft Kinect System – currently a gaming system – but the future??

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About the author

Bradley Wilson is the Managing Director of the AOK Health Group, established in 1994. The AOK Group is comprised of 3 companies which specialise in the design, manufacture and distribution of health and rehabilitation products, education and services worldwide. Bradley has not just fostered good products but also good business, winning the awards including 2008 Exporter of the Year, 2003 Fastest Growing Hunter Wholesaler and in 2004 Trainer of the Year in Logistics. In 2004, 2006 & 2008 Bradley was elected as a Director of the Hunter Business Chamber by the 1000 member companies of that organisation. He is Senior Vice President, Chair of the Executive, Audit, Business Development and Education Committees. In 2005 fellow board members elected him as a Councillor of NSW Business Chamber (previously Australian Business Ltd) - one of Australia’s largest business lobby groups. Bradley was a Councillor for 3 years. Respected enough to work with other prominent industry professionals throughout the world, he has developed a business model that allows his customers the advantage of the world’s best product and technological information unchallenged by their competitors.

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