A few months have passed since the 8th World Congress of Biomechanics in Dublin, Ireland. After a successful Congress and having discovered the finer delicacies that Ireland has to offer, we are back home, unpacked and recuperated from The Storehouse… and of course, talking all things biomechanics. We chatted to old and new friends and we were really pleased that our live system, which included Vicon Vero and Vicon Vue cameras, generated interest.

As a company, we at Vicon are constantly exploring how technology is changing, for example, Virtual Reality is becoming more accessible, user-friendly and affordable. We’ve seen the interest in Virtual Reality from the research community growing steadily. Although Vicon has been working in VR for many years now, the technology has almost exclusively been used in the engineering and entertainment markets. The interest and use of VR in research is a great example of ‘technology convergence’, whereby features or solutions that are developed in one area cross over to provide new possibilities to others.

At WCB, we put the following question to delegates: Does Virtual Reality have a true benefit in a research setting? We think so and we demonstrated one application of Virtual Reality within such a setting. Vicon Life Sciences teamed up with our Unreal guru, Sam Goodwin (VFX Support Engineer), to create an immersive virtual gymnasium. This consisted of a two-part demonstration, which included Vicon’s own software: Nexus, Shogun, Pegasus and the Vicon DataStream SDK, streaming into the Unreal Engine. Plug-in Gait data for various sports, including data from A-list athletes, such as several Ajax football players and Neymar (Brazilian and PSG footballer), was showcased. With the assistance of the Vive, the user entered the Vicon Virtual Gymnasium, with full view of each sporting activity. The user could then delve into a specific sport to further explore the movement, with the option of viewing three-dimensional joint angles whilst walking around this environment.

The Vicon Virtual Gymnasium

Created by our very talented Sam Goodwin (VFX Support Engineer)

Three-dimensional wrist joint angle of a Dutch gymnast

The second part of the demonstration took place in real time, with our very own Vicon runner on a treadmill. Not only were we able to stream in real time from Nexus, we were able to show Nexus 2.7 and the integration of our newly acquired technology from IMeasureU. IMU inertial sensors were attached to the runner’s ankles. These allowed acceleration data to be streamed in real time from Nexus to the Unreal Engine, which provided the user with an additional viewing perspective. We hope the delegates enjoyed this immersive environment and that it provided a potential insight into answering our question.

Vicon IMeasureU booth at WCB 2018

IMU inertial data can also be captured in the wild (Measure Motion Anywhere) using an iOS device via the IMU Research app. Like Nexus, IMU Research captures raw inertial data via Bluetooth or onboard the sensor. We were delighted to have Matt Clarke (Director of Business Development) of IMeasureU at our booth. He provided a great insight into IMU Step, a lower limb load monitoring tool. We would also like to thank Dr Thor Besier (Auckland Bioengineering Institute, University of Auckland) for presenting ‘Integrating IMUs with Optical Motion Capture: Clinical and Sporting Applications’. Wearable sensors are becoming more feasible for the use of motion tracking outside the laboratory. During his lecture at WCB, Dr Besier said that IMUs have limits related to what they are measuring, and to whether they have actionable outcomes. A variety of biomechanical examples were provided, from measuring jump height and kinematic analysis to lower limb load monitoring, such as cumulative bone load monitoring for the NBA Philadelphia 76ers and for runners during the Boston Marathon (Prof. Irene Davis, Harvard Medical School).

Dr Thor Besier, Vicon industry presentation: Inertial sensor biomechanical examples

WCB gave us a fantastic opportunity to gain a further insight into our Vicon customers and their biomechanical research. The topics ranged from locomotion, human movement and multiscale biomechanics, to motor control and animal biomechanics. There was a wide variety of posters and oral presentations from our Vicon customers. A few examples are provided below:

Stair Descent Biomechanics Between Older Fallers, Older Non-Fallers and Young Adults: Research to Improve Stair Climbing Safety, Thijs Ackermans, Liverpool John Moores University
Ground Reaction Forces and Moments from Wearable Sensors via Deep Learning: William Johnson, The University of Western Australia 

Motion Tracking of Harris Hawks during Gap Negotiation, Oxford Flight Group, Dr Marco Klein Heerenbrink, University of Oxford

Upper Limb Kinetics of Violin Bowing: Dr Sarah Ward, The University of Western Australia

For further details, such as abstracts of the biomechanical research presented, please see the WCB Online Programme.

If this is what biomechanics is like in 2018, we at Vicon are excited to see its evolution in the next four years. We’re looking forward to the 9th World Congress of Biomechanics in Taipei, Taiwan. We’ll see you there.