Bringing a new innovation into Australia that aims to extend our understanding and appreciation of how an athlete performs, is assessed and analysed in a competitive environment is Biomechanix.
The company sells and distributes movement and analysis systems, one of which is Simi Motion Reality, a 3-D Markerless motion capture that does away with the need for markers, sensors or for the athlete to wear specialist clothing and perform in a controlled environment.
Biomechanix director Julian Shelbourne spoke about the huge potential of markerless tracking in Australia. He described it as, “Normally 3-D motion capture is something that is done in a sports science lab in a controlled environment where the athlete wears reflective markers. It can now be taken out of the lab and into the sports arena, where it is able to track the athlete in 3-D in their training and competition environment.”
I’m curious about the product stack, very briefly what is the aim of bringing markerless tracking and Simi’s system into the Australian market?
Julian Shelbourne: “The Simi System will allow for detailed movement analysis to be collected in a competition or training environment, whether it be indoors or outdoors. The quality and depth of this information was previously only available in a lab session or during a specific analysis session. Now a contest or training session can be captured in its entirety.
“Not only is the fundamental movement of an athlete tracked, it can be tracked and compared over time in a competitive environment and this brings in some new factors that can be studied and assessed, like tactics, fatigue and stress.”
What verticals can markerless systems be used for?
JS: “In a broad sense the potential uses of a markerless motion capture system would fall into broad categories: the one that springs to mind first is those sports and disciplines when the athletes’ movement is paramount to the outcome and the movement has a direct effect on the result, like running, track and field, bowling and more. Here we’re looking at the dynamics of that particular movement.
“Then there is the ability to take a more holistic view where the reaction time, movement, location and tactics come into play and they determine an outcome. The outcome is a series of events. So that might be something like a tackle l a shot, punch or pass, a reaction in fencing, boxing or football. Here we’re looking at not only the movement but the environment around the movement and what pre-empted the movement – how fast are the reaction times, what happened initially to pre-empt that movement and what happens as a result. Then how it could be modified for improvement.
“So you’re not just looking at the athlete, you’re also looking at the environment around the athlete.”
Who are you currently work with in health and fitness in Australia? What kinds of early interest has there been?
JS: “We’re at an early stage here in Australia but we’re talking to a number of sports here including athletics and diving.”
The kinds of opportunities and data is available could go to anywhere from sports science to media and broadcast, it’s so multifaceted.
JS: “In essence markerless or sensorless means no preparation for analysis is required. Athletes are unencumbered by markers, sensors or specialist clothing, they can perform natural movements in play or competition. We can take the system in and outdoors, during the day or night. There are four key areas where the system can derive benefits: The first is coaches where they have visual information available from multiple cameras immediately, they’re able to work with the athlete and review any aspect of the session from multiple angles, repeat the movement if necessary and compare. They are able to track these sessions overtime. This becomes a great tool to aid coach-athlete communication and feedback.
“Sports scientists now have multiple measurements, full sets of data for an entire game. They’re able to look at how those movements appear over time, whether fatigue is an issue, then they can start to benchmark athletes with respect to their performance and use this information to assist with rehabilitation. They can start to build databases where we can capture data from a complete tournament for further development of stats and analysis.
“Then there’s value for media and broadcasting where you can do direct comparisons between two players or teams. Rather than it be a subjective, visual comparison it can be an objective, measured comparison.”
Ever wonder how Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka strike the ball at such an elite level?
Take a look at both of their swings using Motion Capture Technology. pic.twitter.com/0CquEm21tB
— GOLFonCBS (@GOLFonCBS) May 19, 2019
As the business develops in Australia how much do you lean on your overseas partners to be able to approach sporting bodies and rights holders locally?
JS: “The experiences and practical knowledge is key for any system, and for anybody who’s looking to be an early adopter, they want to see some validation and credibility. This is why I’m excited about Simi, while its new to Australia it’s an established system in other parts of the world.
“Recently I was asked a question about camera placement within a stadium and how do we cope with the cables and setting it up and Simi has some options for this. Traditionally, a system is cable based and so you’ve got to manage cameras and cables in a live environment Simi have experience with this, they’ve also developed some wireless camera systems that operate as self-powered units, and then with the baseball they’ve developed cameras that are permanently established in a stadium in weatherproofed housing that are situated up to 80 metres away from the pitchers plate and these work effectively. There’s some great practical experience that the team has had in other installations, so I think it’s encouraging and satisfying for the potential Australian customers.”
Over the next 12 months how are you going to position the business so there is local adoption?
JS: “It’s a matter of identifying the proactive, forward thinking sporting organisations similar to those who are using the system in Europe and the US. We have the German Olympic Training Centre using the system, Major League Baseball has taken it on for some interesting projects along with sports focussed universities and research centres.
“One of the other interesting areas I’m seeing is some of the private practice sports scientists in the US are keen to use systems like this to help them measure and benchmark their athletes, so they can measure and quantify changes in performance.
“With cloud platforms, markerless motion capture can now venture into mass motion capture, allowing statistical analysis including large data sets, machine learning and artificial intelligence. By adding machine learning and artificial intelligence we can find new patterns in the movement data and help with scouting, performance, optimisation, sports analytics and improved return to sports decision making. Putting it all together this presents many exciting opportunities.”