New suit can enhance athletes' performance with data

July 13, 2017 by Adam Dove, Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
MARS employs real-time motion capture and visualization, using vibration sensors to measure the micro-movements in each of the wearer’s muscles. Credit: Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

When it comes to professional athletics, every little bit counts, and for centuries, athletes have been doing everything they can to get ahead. From legal means like hiring the best trainers and purchasing the best equipment, to less legal means like pharmaceutical enhancement, athletic advantages come in all forms. But thanks to CMU-SV Professor Pei Zhang, the modern athlete now has access to the newest advancement in performance enhancing technology: data.

Though Zhang's vibration were initially developed to track individuals' movements through a building, he quickly realized they were sensitive enough to measure smaller movements, and even movements inside the body. By shrinking these sensors down and sewing them into a bodysuit, Zhang has created the Muscle Activity Recognition System (MARS).

Developed in collaboration with Frank Mokaya of CMU-SV, and Cynthia Kuo, Quinn Jacobson, and Brian Nguyen of Vibrado Technologies, MARS employs real-time motion capture and visualization in any lighting. Using these vibration sensors, the suit is able to measure the micro-movements in each of the wearer's muscles.

"Using this body sensor suit to measure the fine grain vibrations of your body," says Zhang, "we can find out which you are activating, how hard you are activating these particular muscles, and how tired these muscles are."

Inside the suit are 18 sensor nodes with accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers. Using these , the suit maps the activation of particular muscle groups onto the on-screen avatar. When the muscles are first activated, the avatar highlights them in green, but as they fatigue over the duration of the exercise, they change to orange, and eventually red.

This level of data has never before been available to athletes and trainers, and opens up a whole new realm of possibility. By allowing athletes to monitor their muscle fatigue in real time, MARS gives them the ability to correct their posture and movements as they train. Practicing proper movements can greatly reduce the chance of injury, and help athletes to learn skills more quickly and safely.

"This technology can enable both professional and to accurately track the extent of their exercise," says Zhang, "in order to push themselves to their limits, but not over."

With Zhang's sensor suit, athletes of the future will be able to step up their game with the most powerful performance enhancer of all—knowledge.

Explore further: Warm-up to increase athletic performance

Related Stories

Warm-up to increase athletic performance

April 23, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- A La Trobe University study has found that performing low load gluteal muscle exercises enhances strength and power in the lower body during exercise.

Soft wearable robot lightens heavy loads

May 11, 2016

A flexible exosuit, developed by researchers at Harvard University, reduces the energy cost of walking when carrying heavy load, according to a proof-of-principle study published in the open access Journal of NeuroEngineering ...

Vibrating armband helps athletes make the right moves

September 4, 2012

(Phys.org)—An engineering team from Imperial College London have come up with a vibrating armband tagged Ghost that can train a person's muscles and teach the user how to swing like Nadal, or play golf like Tiger, or help ...

Recommended for you

Permanent, wireless self-charging system using NIR band

October 8, 2018

As wearable devices are emerging, there are numerous studies on wireless charging systems. Here, a KAIST research team has developed a permanent, wireless self-charging platform for low-power wearable electronics by converting ...

Facebook launches AI video-calling device 'Portal'

October 8, 2018

Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant which is aiming for a slice of the smart speaker market that is currently dominated by Amazon and ...

Artificial enzymes convert solar energy into hydrogen gas

October 4, 2018

In a new scientific article, researchers at Uppsala University describe how, using a completely new method, they have synthesised an artificial enzyme that functions in the metabolism of living cells. These enzymes can utilize ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.