Wearable motion tracker has multiple applications

A technology best known for animating characters in games and films is now changing how human movement is studied in research and industry. 

The new MVN Biomech system from Dutch technology innovator Xsens is a wearable 3D human motion tracking technology that can be used on production lines, sports fields, in vehicles and aircraft, in the home or any location where human body movement needs to be analysed with high accuracy. Applications include ergonomics and human machine interaction (HMI), biomechanics analysis, rehabilitation, wearables development and sports science.

The system consists of small, lightweight tracking units that communicate wirelessly to a PC. These trackers can either be integrated into a lycra suit (MVN Biomech Link), or mounted in straps that fasten on the human body (MVN Biomech Awinda), and the complete system can fit into an average-sized backpack. MVN Biomech can be set up and used without setting up a special laboratory, meaning measurements can be carried out in any environment – even on a production line or sports field. The package is the only inertial system as yet available that can take into account height differences such as if running up stairs.

‘Unlike optical motion trackers, with this system you don’t have to be in the line of sight of a camera,’ said Colleen Monaghan, product manager for MVN Biomech. ‘This means you can use it in any normal environment and still track movements.’

The system channels wireless sensor data through biomechanical models and sensor fusion algorithms before visualising them in real-time in Xsens’ own MVN Studio Biomech software or in application-specific packages. Real-time 3D data streaming is provided in the form of an animated 3D character and graphs.