Friday, October 16, 2009

Wearable cameras for Sports Video Analysis

The Motion Capture technology company Vicon, announced yesterday that they had signed a license with Microsoft to develop a wearable camera based on the Microsoft SenseCam technology. The camera will automatically take pictures and I assume video for the wearer as they go about their daily activities.

Of course the camera has some immediate benefits to dementia and Alzheimers sufferers. The camera images will help these patients to create visual memories of activities during the day. The camera will also have application in patient monitoring, allowing Dr's to evaluate patients well being or compliance with a treatment protocol.

The articles on this website are about sports analysis though, and I believe that the Vicon Revue camera (the name for this new camera) will have benefits for sports performance too. Of course there are already cameras available that can be mounted to a helmet or some sports equipment and enable the sports activity to be viewed from a first person perspective.

Here is a great video using a helmet mounted video on a mountain bike.

So how can we use a wearable camera for analyzing sports performance. Here are a few suggestions that I think would be useful.
  1. As we saw in the video above, the camera was mounted on top of the bikers helmet. A camera mounted on the helmet can help us to analyze head movement during the activity. Most sports require the head to be still during a particular motion. The head, with the skull and brain has a lot of weight for its size. Moving your head around during a sports performance can often throw you off balance.
  2. The helmet mounted camera can also help analyze what we are looking at during the activity. For ball sports such as baseball, cricket, tennis and golf, the position of the head often determines how you will hit the ball. Lift your head too early during a golf swing and you may even miss the ball completely.
  3. A wearable camera may also allow you to analyze your positioning in team sports. If you are a defender in soccer, the camera can assist in analyzing how close you were able to stay to your assigned mark.
  4. A wearable camera may provide excellent feedback to a coach during a game. A player wearing the camera can provide the coach with important information about the oppositions positioning on the field.
Although video cameras are getting smaller everyday (the Vicon Revue is smaller and lighter than an ipod) , wearable cameras will probably need to get even smaller still before they can be used effectively in a competitive sporting arena or for that matter as a coaching tool. For the moment cameras can only be mounted on helmets or sports equipment and not all sports use suitable equipment.

Once cameras become small enough to be sewn into the badge of an athlete's jersey we may see many more application for first person, wearable, sports video analysis.

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