Archers and swimmers use VTT sensors to improve performance

Archers and swimmers are working with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in developing wearable sensors to help improve their sporting performance.

The low cost MEMs sensors have been attached to swimmer’s hand paddles and archers’ equipment to obtain and wirelessly transfer performance data to the coach’s smartphone or tablet. According to Raimo Korhonen, head of Research Area at VTT, the wireless sensor technology could also be embedded in ski poles, skis, racquets, bicycles, and even be used in equestrian sports.

The sensors embedded in swimmer’s paddles have been designed to provide precise and varied data on the wearer’s swimming technique.

According to VTT, this covers stroke length and changes in it during swimming, the relationship between the outward stroke and recovery, the structure of the stroke and the average pull, the hand position and the pressure exerted by the stroke in different directions.

“The sensors have inbuilt calibration algorithms that are used in the prototype,” Dr Petteri Alahuhta, business development manager, VTT told The Engineer via email. “Characteristics of the swimming are extracted later by an algorithm and analysing the sensor data.”

Dr Alahuhta added that the sensor housing is the size of a €1 coin and that the sensor – powered by a coin cell battery – transmits data at around 30Hz when used in the pool, adding that waterproofing can be improved with an additional gasket, depending on the type of sport.

The measurable quantities in archery include the amount and directions of movement when aiming, the timing of the different phases of the performance, and the movement made when releasing the arrow. Wearable sensors and the related applications can be used during practice, when testing equipment and to some extent in competition, in order to analyse the quality of and changes in performance.

VTT is now seeking partners to commercialise its sensor technology and expand related areas of application.