Sporting success for SESAME

An EPSRC-funded project will use wireless sensor-based systems with offline and real-time processing and feedback to bring sporting success to Britain.

SESAME (Sensing for Sport and Managed Exercise) will combine multiple video cameras with on-body sensors that measure factors such as arm angle, knee lift and body lean. The sensors use small, low-power electronics and wireless technology to collect the data.

These data are then transmitted to the coach who will be provided with a near-instant slow motion replay and an extensive amount of information for analysis of elite athletes and young athletes who have been identified as having world class potential.

The project involves groups from University College London, the RoyalVeterinaryCollege, the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff and CambridgeUniversity.

‘Our aim is to use technology to help coaches, not replace them.’ said Dr Robert Harle, CambridgeUniversity. ‘A key aspect of SESAME is to listen to coaches and understand their needs. Their input could help ensure that we develop technology tools which make a real impact on achievement by UK athletes in the future.

‘Many sports depend on correct technique to optimise athlete performance and reduce injury risk. There’s significant value in developing technologies which can assist the coaching process by providing near-instantaneous feedback on an athlete’s technique during a training session itself.’

The system will enable the coach to give an athlete immediate analysis and advice during the short time they’re returning to their mark, so not interrupting training schedules.

‘It is very ambitious and challenging,’ said Dr Aki Salo, senior lecturer in sport biomechanics at BathUniversity. ‘This is a wonderful opportunity to get Britain on the leading edge of sport science research especially in speed and power athletics.

‘From the athletes and coaches point of view, it would be great if we can get to a situation when meaningful information about the performance is available almost instantaneously. Currently detailed data analysis can take quite a long time, and often you cannot try any new things within the same training session.

‘New technology could revolutionise this, but at the same time we should not forget to educate the coaches as they need to understand the data and pass the right corrections to the athlete.’

The system is currently being trialled and expected to be available within three years.