Wearable computer which can remotely monitor the performance of athletes

As Greece is in full swing with Olympic fever, engineers at the University of Birmingham, England, have teamed up with researchers in Athens to design a wearable computer which can remotely monitor the performance of athletes.

Dr Chris Baber from the University's department of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering has collaborated with researchers at the National Technical University of Athens to make an 'on-body' computer which will track the acceleration, pace and body temperature of the wearer.

The computer, which is strapped to an athlete's chest and wrists, sends signals to a receiver via a radio link. In the case of a volleyball game, there is a corresponding data collector in the ball which, when hit by the player, also sends information back to the receiver. The data is collected on a laptop and a graph produced which shows detailed information about the forces from the hand of the player and the forces applied to the ball.

This new equipment accurately demonstrates Newton's laws of motion, for example, when a volleyball player hits a ball, the force on the hand and the impact on the ball must be equal in order to constitute a 'good shot'.

Dr Chris Baber, lead investigator and expert in wearable computers, says 'We have produced our prototype in time for the Olympics however this system can have many different applications: it can make science more interesting in a classroom environment where it is useful for physics teachers when teaching their students Newton's laws of motion; it can be used by sports coaches to point out good and bad examples of technique; it can also be used in a real live match scenario where a coach or manager can assess the performance of a player just by looking at the data sent to the laptop.'

The development work on this project was carried out at the University of Birmingham and the pre-market prototype has been made by a Greek company called Anco Sa and will be on show at an exhibition featuring sports technology in Athens during the Olympics.

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