by Kersti Hedman
SICS and the Swedish Winter Sport Research Centre at Mid Sweden University have initiated a collaborative project to demonstrate how cutting edge technology and advanced mathematics can help to develop new training methods to achieve success at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. The tool measures how skiers move, and helps optimize technique and training.
The new partnership consists of a “dream team” comprising the world’s most experienced sports researchers in biomechanics and physiology and the best skiers in the country, combined with the foremost experts in advanced mathematical modelling in Sweden. Swedish Winter Sport Research
Centre at Mid Sweden University, led by Professor Hans-Christer Holmberg, also head of development at the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC), known primarily for the development of cross-country skiing, accounts for the domain knowledge, while SICS and partners are addressing the technical solutions.
In brief, the service is a cell phone application that continuously registers and provides information about how the skiers move and their movement economy. The sensors that provide the information are in an ordinary Android phone worn on the body together with a traditional heart rate monitor. The captured data are transmitted via the Internet to processing in “the cloud” using advanced algorithms. Data are then sent immediately back to the skier or trainer in the form of useful, understandable information that can optimize training.
There are two main techniques in cross-country skiing: classic –within which there are four distinct sub-techniques - and skate – which has five sub-techniques. The tool classifies a race or training session into a sequence of used sub-techniques and for each sub technique calculates a number of key performance indices. The algorithm is based on sampling three-dimensional accelerometer data, advanced filtering and preprocessing before a machine learning algorithm is used to classify the movement into correct sub-techniques.
The training tool will be used by the Swedish team for the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2013. “This is an exciting new tool for us in skiing,” says Rikard Grip, coach of the Swedish women’s cross country ski team. “It provides major opportunities to develop and optimize training. A fundamental question for skiers today is movement economy, and this provides exciting opportunities to speed up even more.”
SICS sees the project as an outstanding chance to convert several new innovative technologies developed at SICS into a fun application that is in demand. The service uses the latest sensor technology and new findings in interaction design, modelling and pattern recognition. Working with the most talented individuals in the sport—skiers, trainers and researchers—is one of the most stimulating components of the project. There are no margins here; every hundredth of a second counts.
Hans-Christer Holmberg sees major potential in combining knowledge of physiology and biomechanics with the latest sensor technology to take training and results to the next level. Everybody is extremely satisfied with how the collaboration has gained momentum.
“As head of development at SOC, naturally I see this collaboration as a way to achieve major successes at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi,” says Hans-Christer Holmberg. “But I can also see the results being adapted for several sports, including running, rowing and kayaking. By using the results in smartphones, exercise will be more enjoyable for more people, which will make Sweden healthier and more active.”
We’re only at the beginning of an exciting development in what modern IT can do for the sport. The project is a key component in the SICS initiative on the Internet of Things, the vision of an internet that connects not only people, but also objects in a context that benefits people’s lives.
Christer Norström, SICS, Sweden
Hans-Christer Holmberg, Swedish Olympic Committee