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Research project: Optimized athlete body sensor networks for simulation-based performance analysis

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In engineering, computer simulations are used routinely to predict the performance of design, for example the aerodynamic drag of an aircraft. Using such simulations, designs can be used as a means to improve performance. Advances in computer simulations mean that we can now simulate the performance of the human body. However, unlike engineering design where the designer specifies the geometry and movement, it is difficult to capture the geometry and movement of the human body upon which simulations are based.

We are developing a system of wearable sensors that gather information about the movement of athletes so that we can then simulate what their muscles are doing, their aerodynamic drag, etc. This will allow us to optimize the athlete's technique in much the same way as an aircraft's shape is optimized. 

Our contention is that the ability to use a whole body network of non-intrusive, rugged, wireless motion sensors would offer a step-change in ability to capture body motions required to deduce fluid loadings and likely muscular activity in swimming.  The team brought together in Southampton has the skills in hydrodynamics, bioengineering, design optimization, physiology, sensor platforms, software development and systems analysis required to carry out such a challenging proof of concept study that fits closely within the spirit and scope of the ESPRIT consortium. 

Our goal is the accurate simulation of the performance of swimmers in a competition environment. Such understanding will facilitate equipment, technique and strategy optimization. The capabilities of musculoskeletal simulation can only be realised through proper calibration of the computer model. The aim of the proposed research is to develop a practical and efficient wireless body sensor network, with minimum number of sensors, for both musculoskeletal simulation calibration and as a real-time training aid.

Project team

Dr A Forrester, Lecturer, School of Engineering Sciences

Professor SR Turnock, Professor, School of Engineering Sciences

Dr DJ Taunton, Roberts Research Fellow, School of Engineering Sciences

Prof M Stokes, Professor of Neuromusculoskeletal Rehabilitation, Faculty of Health Sciences

Students in Fluid Structures Interaction Group, School of Engineering Science:

Chris Phillips, Angus Webb, Joe Banks

Project funder

EPSRC/UK Sport via the Elite Sports Performance Research in Training (ESPRIT) Consortium

Associated Research Groups

Computational Engineering and Design, School of Engineering Sciences
Health Technologies USRG

Associated research themes

Performance in sport

Related research groups

Active Living and Rehabilitation
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