iMOVE CRC bid success

imovecrc-logo-260.pngEarly last year SABEL Labs and colleagues were pleased to work with several Universities in the preperation of a CRC bid, the iMOVE CRC. Happily the bid was successful and we congratulate Dr Jim Lee of Charles Darwin University  for his efforts in leading their institutional success. iMOVE CRC is focused on intelligent transport systems and cuts across almost every facet of Australian life.

Whats that got to do with Sports Technology you ask? Well we reckon wether two legs or four the technologies are about the same and we can apply what we know about human locomotion to that of cattle as they make their journey from the paddock to the plate. A happy cow, that grazes just enough, is great for the Australian economy and given that 80% of export cattle pass through the port of Darwin there is a natural nexus there. Of course this is just the beginning as the integration with other parts of the value chain lead to some quite exciting analytics, fusion of data and applying our wireless technologies in new and interesting ways.

Looking forward to what comes next Jim!

Heres the press release in full!

MEDIA RELEASE  (from http://www.imovecrc.com )

$55 million federal grant for ten-year intelligent transport R&D centre will deliver better transport systems for Australia 

More productive and safer transport systems country-wide are an important step closer with today’s announcement that the federal government is supporting a new intelligent transport cooperative research centre (iMOVE CRC) with a $55 million R&D grant.

The iMOVE CRC has been in development for over 18 months and is strongly supported by industry, technology innovators, state road authorities, federal and state government departments and industry associations. These partners are complemented by Australia’s best research talent in fields relating to the development of intelligent transport systems.

The centre’s establishment is well-timed due to the challenges currently faced by Australia’s transport systems and the rapidly evolving development of technologies and business models that can help solve these issues.

“Transport is the backbone of our economy. As a country we will fall behind if we cannot move our people and goods effectively and efficiently,” says bid lead for iMOVE CRC, Ian Christensen.

“Our roads are congested and our transport systems are not co-ordinated and it’s getting worse in many cases. The establishment of the iMOVE CRC gives us an immediate opportunity to tackle this situation, by harnessing the power of ‘big data’, developing smarter solutions and engaging with the community to trial and deploy new technologies.”

The CRC funding and ten-year timeframe will enable the 46 partners to develop technology outcomes that will benefit the whole of Australia. It will deliver better options and experiences for individual travellers, much-needed productivity improvements in logistics and access to new markets for business.

Says iMOVE CRC Bid Chair, Ian Murray AM, “As a country, we lose around $16.5 billion a year because of congestion. When you also factor in the human and financial losses due to accidents, we are looking at a phenomenal social and economic cost. We will now have the technology and smarts available to significantly alleviate these problems.

“The iMOVE CRC has a research program and experienced people ready to start work immediately. I am tremendously excited by the opportunities we have in front of us with this funding.”

The introduction of connected and intelligent transport systems also requires national coordination mechanisms. The iMOVE CRC will play a role alongside other national bodies in assisting states, territories and peak industry bodies to collaborate and deliver cohesive national outcomes.

“The current explosion of data, the computing power of mobile phones, and the increasing automation of vehicles creates a vast range of opportunities to improve the range, safety, convenience and effectiveness of peoples’ travel options. Mobility and transport is one of the most exciting and dynamic aspects of urban and economic development. With its broad range of partners the iMOVE CRC will enable Australian organisations to develop world leading products and services.

“As well as with our partners we will be working in consultation with numerous other stakeholders, such as the Australian Logistics Council and the National Transport Commission. This will enable us to get the best possible outcomes for Australia,” says Mr. Christensen.

MEDIA RELEASE

“We are eager to get things happening
and look forward to working closely with all our partners and stakeholders over the next ten years.”

About iMOVE CRC 

The iMOVE CRC is a new national intelligent transport R&D centre funded through the Co-operative Research Centres programme. It is supported by 46 industry, government and research partners including the federal departments of ‘Industry Innovations and Science’ and ‘Infrastructure and Regional Development’, state road authorities, retailers, logistics and insurance companies, technology developers, automobile clubs and many of Australia’s top universities.

The ten-year centre will undertake industry-led research that uses emerging technologies to improve Australian transport systems nationally. It will deliver fast and predictable freight systems and enhanced mobility for Australians on the roads and public transport.

http://www.imovecrc.com 

Contacts 

Ian Christensen, Bid Lead

ichristensen@imovecrc.com

0411 276 104

Jacqueline King, Bid Secretariat jking@imovecrc.com
0404 045 293

Congratulations James Lee

jimssportslab-smallCongratulations to our SABEL NT director James Lee (and founder of Jim’s Sports Lab) on his recent promotion to Senior Lecturer at Charles Darwin University and recent publication.

Dr. Lee has never been shy to follow his passion for sports technology a journey that has taken him to Japan for a year with Ohgi laboratory, and several teaching and research positions at a number of leading Austrlian universities. Since landing at Chares Darwin university just a few years ago he has transformed their teaching programmes through the adoption of online and social media technologies to create a more engaging programme, led several research initiatives to help solve problems unique to the Northern areas, coordinated the areas participation in a CRC bid (fingers crossed) and continued to collaborate widely.

Recently this has also leading to a publication on cloud based wearable sensor technologies and data analytics platform, as a partnership between SABEL Labs members and the Kanoya National Institute of Sports and Fitness.

An Architectural Based Framework for the Distributed Collection, Analysis and Query from Inhomogeneous Time Series Data Sets and Wearables for Biofeedback Applications

James Lee 1,* David Rowlands 2, Nicholas Jackson 2, Raymond Leadbetter 2, Tomohito Wada 3 and Daniel A. James

Abstract: The increasing professionalism of sports persons and desire of consumers to imitate this has led to an increased metrification of sport. This has been driven in no small part by the widespread availability of comparatively cheap assessment technologies and, more recently, wearable technologies. Historically, whilst these have produced large data sets, often only the most rudimentary analysis has taken place (Wisbey et al in: “Quantifying movement demands of AFL football using GPS tracking”). This paucity of analysis is due in no small part to the challenges of analysing large sets of data that are often from disparate data sources to glean useful key performance indicators, which has been a largely a labour intensive process. This paper presents a framework that can be cloud based for the gathering, storing and algorithmic interpretation of large and inhomogeneous time series data sets. The framework is architecture based and technology agnostic in the data sources it can gather, and presents a model for multi set analysis for inter- and intra- devices and individual subject matter. A sample implementation demonstrates the utility of the framework for sports performance data collected from distributed inertial sensors in the sport of swimming.

You can download the full version Here PDF Version: http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4893/10/1/23/pdf

 

 

Scope TV segment airing tomorrow 8:30am Channel 11

So you may remember getting a behind the scenes look at a ScopeTV segment we filmed on our virtual reality cycling simulator. The episode goes to air at 8.30am Saturday 04/02/2017 (tomorrow) morning.

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This is just the prototype of the project, with the entire experience being created with help from my wonderful friends at the Griffith University IDEA Lab. We’ve moved on to new and exciting testing with this device and a few other games are in the works. Looking forward to putting the results from the research studies out there for you to look at soon. Hopefully you can tune in and see the episode live as it airs, if you are from further abroad or can’t watch it live, we will post a link when it hits the web!

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Bringing in 2017 With A Bang.

On behalf of SABEL Labs a very happy new year to all, what a massive year 2016 was for the Lab. We won the ISEA bid for 2018, published scientific papers, traveled both far and near for conferences and seminars, lectured university courses, featured on TV shows, and helped athletes and coaches from a range of sports achieve new performance heights. The year was also full of changes with SABEL’s founding director Dan James biding Griffith Adieu with also Mitch, and Ray biding goodbye to Griffith after many years of service, all onto new adventures. Although they are missed at Griffith, we still remain a part of the SABEL family under the leadership of Griffith SABEL director David Rowlands.

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The year ended with a bang, but an unplanned and very unfortunate one. Construction work on the floor above led to the water pipes in our lab bursting causing the whole lab to be inundated with water, only a day before Santa was due to come down the chimney. Unfortunately, we didn’t have our SABELSense’s on, would have made an interesting aside to our swimming papers! The flood has led to a bit of a delayed start to the year, but the office has now been washed and cleaned and the insurance claims have been filled in.

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With a squeaky clean office and new gear arriving in the next few weeks (thanks insurance) the lab will look to have its biggest year yet. We have some exciting announcements in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

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The challenges of making Smart Sports Garments

‘What is a Smart sports garment?

Smart sports garments or smart performance garments is a relatively new product segment in the consumer sports tech market. There are probably different views of what the definition should be, but for the purpose of this post, it is a sports garment with embedded sensors/electronics. The main functions of sports garments include providing covering, protection, comfort, ease of movement and some might say making the athlete more aesthetically pleasing. Then with the added sensors and electronics, there generally are two different types of secondary functions.

The more common one is the passive function where sensors monitor stuff on an athlete, either physiological measurements or physical movements. It can make smart evaluations based on the data and give real-time feedback suggesting to the athlete that they should push harder or rest or correct their technique etc. But the decision to act on that suggestion still lies with the athlete or coach. There is also the not-so-common active function where the garment does something to the user. For example giving electrical muscle stimulations or possibly electric shocks. But so far the “electric shock” feature is only found on a wristband and hasn’t extended to any other wearables yet. I am not sure why that is the case. For EMS, it has been said that it helps with muscle strengthening which is good for rehab or as a complementary training tool. But I will not go into it since it’s beyond my area of expertise.

R&D in Melbourne

A while ago, I had the opportunity to be a lab rat for a mate’s PhD thesis. He has developed a patented novel technology to measure muscle activity and hopefully able to predict the risk of muscle and knee injuries in elite athletes. The experiment I took part in was basically collecting a bunch of data from this novel sensing technology, wireless electromyography (EMG) sensors, a motion capture system, and a bike trainer. Unfortunately, it also involved me pedalling for my life.

How is this relevant to smart garments? Well, the novel sensors and EMG sensors were all hidden under a compression garment with motion capture markers secured on the outside. The compression tights ensure that the sensors remain where they are (and reliably capture data) and they also (coincidentally) facilitate motion capture. Albeit it was a very crude way of combining the sensors and the 2XU tights, it was a functional prototype (of sorts), and the ultimate goal would be to have those novel sensors built into compression tights.

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Lab rat in action

As we discussed further on commercialising this novel sensing technology for smart sports garments or developing smart compression garments with any wireless sensors, it became apparent that there are a number of challenges. Here’s just a few:

Washing and durability :: A sports garment is going to get sweaty and smelly a lot more than everyday garments. So it definitely needs to get washed. Most smart garments in the market have an electronics module (IMU, BLE module, battery etc) that is removable because they will not survive a tumble in the washing machine. However, there are still conductive pads or conductive yarns (for electrical connections). Would long term washing affect their conductivity and so usefulness?  (A research has shown that most conductive threads will be affected although some hold up better.)

Sensor data accuracy :: In order to capture accurate & robust data, the sensors have to be positioned in the correct location each and every time the smart garment is put on. For measuring stuff like heart rate or EMG, it needs to maintain skin contact for proper measurements. If sensor positions are off (by a bit too much) or skin contact is not maintained, the data collected becomes meaningless and cannot be compared with previous data sets. Not to mention the effect of sweat on EMG electrodes.

Custom fitting :: This relates closely to the above point. Most sports compression wear are made in standard sizes. Sometimes one might find their compression garment being a bit too long at the legs or too short for the arms or too tight around a joint and too loose at a certain spot. It’s fine on a regular compression garment. But when sensors come into play, especially when there is fabric type of sensors (that measures compression or stretch), perhaps a custom-fit garment could be a more optimal solution.

Application :: This is possibly the most important challenge – designing a smart sports garment that solves a real need. It could be a very niche area or a wide-spread problem. But the starting point would be talking to athletes, coaches and sports scientists, to identify where the need is or what needs to be tracked. Then the smart garment that is developed would be a solution and not just a cool piece of technology.

What’s in the marketplace

Having said that, over the last 4-5 years, more than a handful of companies have taken up these challenges and developed their own smart sports garments. A quick search on google shows that there are at least 5-6 smart sports garments in the market.

Brands / Companies
Measured parameters
Heart rate Breathing frequency EMG Motion 3D motion (joints)
OmSignal
Hexoskin
Athos
Myontec
Heddoko

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OmSignal and Hexoskin have smart garments that are an extension of heart rate monitors with an added IMU (Inertia measurement unit) which provides parameters such as breathing rhythm, running cadence, step count and more. While they both seem to be generic fitness trackers when they first came out, it looks like Omsignal has now dropped their original Omshirt and focused on a women-specific product (the Ombra) for running. This might have to do with a review like this: link.

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Myontec and Athos are smart compression garments with surface EMG sensors. The point of putting on these garments is for the user to know what’s going on with specific muscle groups during their run, cycle or gym workout. Myontec is focused on the lower body (quadriceps and hamstring) with an emphasis on running and biking, while Athos covers the whole body looking at general strength training. It is cool that their accompanying software/app provides feedback of which muscles should be activated more during a squat (or other exercises) but I think it might be better if they could correct a user’s posture/technique that is causing the wrong muscles to be activated.

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Heddoko is a full body compression suit that measures a user’s 3D motion much like the Xsens suit. The difference is that the Heddoko suit uses less number of IMU and has embedded stretch sensors, which makes it unique. Assuming the measurements are accurate and repeatable, it has lots of potential applications in sports biomechanics and injury prevention. But based on this video, they are still validating their sensors and trying to work out specific applications.

Some additional thoughts

On one hand, it is cool that there is all these performance tracking technology available to the average athlete – such as wireless EMG and 3D motion analysis (again, assuming the measurements are robust). On the other hand, I wonder if the benefits would outweigh the costs because they are mostly quite expensive and I am not sure if the average gym goer would need that much information about their workout. Perhaps they would be more useful to elite or professional athletes, especially where professional teams have coaches and sports scientists to analyse the data, and give custom feedback. They could also couple it with video playback and analysis so that there is more context to the data.

I think for the average athlete, a smart garment might be useful if they are going through physical rehab and need to monitor certain movements or muscle groups while under the guidance of a physical therapist. Or if they are trying to pick up a specific skill like throwing a football or baseball (In fact, there are sensor embedded sleeves that do just that, which I might discuss another time). Basically, there should really be a specific ‘pain’ to solve. A smart garment with a generic health and fitness application is probably not going to be of much use. Wristbands and smart watches already try to do that.

Do you already own a smart sports garment or are thinking of getting one? If yes, do leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts and what you would use it for. Thanks for reading!

Adieu Griffith

schrodingers-cat.jpgAfter 17 years at Griffith University it’s time to hand back my swipe card and explore other opportunities. It’s been tremendous fun developing the sports engineering and technology disciplines (see Griffith’s SABEL research with impact), working with the elite sports industry, related and consumer industries and leading peak professional bodies like the International Sports Engineering Association, The Australian Sports Technologies Network and others. Highlights have been developing commercial products, supporting elite sport, receiving support from the ARC, seeing 20+ students through their doctoral journey and contributing to the ISEA international conference bid for 2018 in Brisbane.
Unfortunately, I looked in Schrodinger ‘ s contract box one too many times and it appears the cat has expired …
I’m looking forward to seeing where the SABEL journey leads and keeping in touch with everyone going forward.
Very best wishes to all for Christmas, the New Year and future endeavours!

SABEL ‘research with impact’ interview

Here’s an interview piece on SABEL, put together for the Griffith University research with impact campaign feature on SABEL. Watch for Jono in tights, to somewhat relieve the monotone discourse from the interview subject 😉

You can follow the story through the Advance Queensland Community Digital Champions page as well.digitalchamp-vision6-header.jpg