Sports performance research team drafts international talent for commercial kick-off
An Edmonton research lab is tapping into some international talent to help bring their high-tech solutions for athletes out of the lab and onto the football field.
Shengjie Xiu, a 20-year-old undergraduate student from China, spent his summer working in professor Hossein Rouhani’s neuromuscular control and biomechanics laboratory at the University of Alberta. There, he’s been tasked with helping to develop a custom software application designed to pair to a set of augmented-reality (AR) goggles and biofeedback sensors that help athletes assess their performance.
“Usually, evaluating an athlete’s performance to help them improve or to prevent injury is based on the coach’s observation. But the evaluation can be subjective and isn’t able to capture slight changes in the athlete’s motion pattern that might make a difference,” says professor Rouhani. The UofA research bridges a gap between wearable technologies created for entertainment purposes and those developed for clinical or professional purposes.
“We have a hard time evaluating a majority of athletic activities in standard motion-capture labs. Wearable technologies create an opportunity for us to evaluate athletic performance in the field and record the actual and natural performance of the athletes. Being able to do this could go a long way towards helping to put Canada on the international map for athletic training and evaluation.”
Rouhini hopes to commercialize the research for hockey player use soon, and university football players next year, while developing its applications for many other sports.
The software that Xiu is developing ties the whole system of sensors and goggles together so that coaches, medical staff, or athletes themselves can use the information to perform better or to reduce the risk of injury.
Xiu is excited to collaborate with Canadian researchers in a way that lets him develop and use his programming skills. “Researchers in Canada are inclusive and enthusiastic,” he says. “Members of my lab have different academic backgrounds and they have welcomed me warmly as a new partner and have also helped me adapt to research in Canada.”
Having had a successful collaboration this summer, the team is hopeful to deploy the athlete-evaluation system with the UofA’s football team next spring.
Mitacs would like to thank the Government of Canada, along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of Manitoba, and the Government of Quebec for their support of the Globalink Research Internship program. In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with the following international partners to support Globalink: Universities Australia; Brazil’s Universidade de São Paulo; China Scholarship Council; Campus France; German Academic Exchange Service; Mexico’s Government of the State of Guanajuato, EDUCAFIN, and Tecnológico de Monterrey; Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche scientifique, des Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication de la Tunisie and Mission universitaire de Tunisie en Amérique du Nord; and Ukrainian-Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko.
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