For Olympic athletes, milliseconds and tenths of a point can mean the difference between a gold medal and being left off the winners podium. While some athletes have sought performance-enhancing drugs to gain that extra edge, here's a more honest and technological approach.
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It's a vibrating suit called MotivePro that helps athletes and other users improve their memory of physical technique. The suit was recently tested by Olympic hopeful Mimi Cesar, a rhythmic gymnast currently ranked third in the United Kingdom.
The MotivePro is a Birmingham City University research project led by professor Gregory Sporton, senior academic Stephen Wanless and Ph.D. student Jonathon Green.
In a university press release, Sporton described the suit:
The suit is designed to give wearers feedback about where their body is in space. It does this by focusing on key points in the body, taking relative measurements between them to check the user's position. This data, much more simple to acquire and treat in real time than more complex motion capture systems, is then used to give the wearer feedback in real time about their movement. The sensors include a vibrating motor, like that found on a mobile phone, and these can be set to vibrate to indicate when someone moves outside a desirable range. This is not the only use of the data: it can also be transformed into sound or visual files, all designed to give feedback in real time that enables wearers to adjust their movements in performance.
The system can also record the movements as well, to use after the event. This means that archives can be built up showing relative performance over time, any long term trajectories identified and the use of the data to make averages amongst particular user groups.
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For the idea alone, Sporton and his team may deserve a gold medal.
Credit: Birmingham City University