Micro sensors track Aussie rowers (and other Olympic tech)

“…In 2002 Geospatial Science won a three-year research project from the CRC for MicroTechnology to develop a miniaturised, high precision GPS system for monitoring rowers during their training sessions. The system is designed to measure the rower’s position, velocity, and acceleration in real-time, and then combine this spatial information with other athlete physiological information which can then be relayed to the coaching staff for analysis.

The ability to measure and record both physiological and positional information associated with athlete movement in real-time is critical in the process of training and coaching. Blood oxygen, respiration, heart rates, velocity, acceleration/force, changes in direction and position, and many other factors are vital data in elite athlete training. Position, movement, and force information plays an important role in the effective analysis of athlete performance, especially for rowers. For example, the stroke rate, force, and synchronisation of rowers are critical for a crew’s optimum performance during competition.

Currently, stroke information for rowers can only be measured in the laboratory or by using simulated devices. Existing technologies used include theoretical studies, video-footage analysis, indoor tank studies, computer modelling, and ergometers. However, much of the equipment is too heavy, expensive, obtrusive, or unreliable to use out on the water. Therefore, smart real-time monitoring during training and competition to help elite athletes to improve their performance and avoid injuries is a major step forward for both athletes and coaches.

The RMIT team has already conducted a number of field trials in Canberra and shown that information in real-time on boat position, velocity, and acceleration can be measured with centimetre accuracy. These preliminary trials have demonstrated the feasibility of how a low-cost, miniaturised, light-weight, and compact integrated hi-tech system could be used to improve the performance of athlete and coaching in real-time and – possibly – increase Australia’s chances of a medal haul in Athens.” I couldn’t find the newspaper story on the web that prompted me to post this, but here are other links related to the story:

Australian rowing technology put to the test

An Australian success story illustrated how one of the country’s Cooperative Research Centers (CRC) has been able to use micro devices to assist national Olympic aspirations

Blood, sweat and tears, yes. But John Huxley discovers science plays an increasing role in Australia’s sporting success