Wearable sensors to aid swimming and archery coaches

14 September 2015
By Edd Gent
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The system created by VTT could help swimmers improve their performance

The system created by VTT could help swimmers improve their performance

Finland's national swimming team and archery association have helped develop new wearable sensors that could boost athletic performance.

The new sensors, developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, can be attached to swimmers' hand paddles - a plastic plate worn during training - or an archer's bow to transmit data wirelessly to their coach's smartphone or tablet.

When embedded in a hand panel the sensor can measure stroke length and how that changes over the course of a session, 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.

"Swimming is an unusual sport because it is not easy for the athlete to check his or her own performance in the water," said Simo Karvinen, the Finnish junior Olympic team coach. "In addition, very few means are available of measuring development in the swimmer's technique, in terms such as the efficiency of hand strokes.

"VTT's technology provides a means of directly observing the power of each hand stroke and its trajectory through the water, without disrupting performance."

When attached to an archer's equipment the sensors were able to provide data on 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.

"Archery involves a dynamic technique, but the movements involved are extremely small and sensitive to changes," said Juhana Rüster, head of coaching at the Finnish Archery Association.

"The movement analysis solution developed by VTT adds data of a new kind to the observation of such movements. Further development of the solution will be hugely beneficial to coaching in the sport."

The sensors are ready for use in training and VTT is now seeking partners to commercialise the technology and expand the related areas of application.

"VTT's wireless sensor technology can be embedded in a range of sports equipment, such as ski poles, skis, racquets and bicycles, and can even be used in horse training," said Raimo Korhonen, head of research area at VTT.

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