Athletic and clinical testing for performance analysis and enhancement has traditionally been performed in the laboratory where the required instrumentation is available and environmental conditions can be easily controlled. Today however we see the emergence of small, portable technologies being applied to the sporting environment. One such technology that has seen rapid development in recent years is in the area of inertial sensors. These sensors respond to minute changes in inertia in the linear and radial directions. Such sensors have been utilised in a variety of sports related monitoring projects such as monitoring elite swimmers, monitoring rowing, athlete gait analysis, and a variety of other uses including estimating athlete energy expenditure, assessing limb segment acceleration, studying swordsmanship, multi-limb motion monitoring, boxing suit monitoring, and others. Both the architecture and implementation of an operating system suitable for use in such sensor systems has been utilised as a teaching tool at University and by other organisations.
To a certain extent however the use of these sensors has been constrained to research teams with access to engineering and sport science expertise. Concurrent with the emergence of Sports Engineering as a discipline in its own right has seen the availability of such instrumentation become more common amongst research teams and in the commercial world. Commercial devices are now being available albeit at significant capital cost that combine inertial sensors with foot pressure sensors, GPS for positioning and other specialist sensors such as strain gauges for rowing.
Our workshop presented a ‘no frills’ sensor system at low cost of approximately $AUD100 for researchers to experiment without committing huge resources to the endeavor. It has been designed to make speculative data collection activities as simple as possible with little or no programming knowledge required. Example data analysis routines are presented to show the reader what is possible, but without being prescriptive in nature.