Making Motion Capture Part of the Fabric of Sport

Making Motion Capture Part of the Fabric of Sport

Sport has always used technology to develop and move forward. In some sports this relationship with technology has become so embedded that we barely notice it today – from the advancements in kit athletes wear to the video analysis and the heart rate monitors used in training.

A lot of the technology that has been adopted in sport has been in search of a greater understanding of athlete performance – from the power meters in cycling to the GPS trackers that are almost ubiquitous in team sports today.

In the last 10 years motion tracking technology has firmly become part of that mix. Today it is hard to find a sport that isn’t making use of motion capture technology in some way. From the hundreds of thousands of research papers, to the assessments and rules being issued by major governing bodies like FIFA and the NFL, motion capture is now a visible and established part of the sporting world.

The question is: what’s next?

Maximizing the value of motion tracking to sport

It’s an important question because, for all the growth in the use of motion capture in sport, we are still a long way from extracting maximum value from motion tracking technology.

Researchers and practitioners still have limited access to athletes; handling and analyzing the data that tracking systems produce is still a huge challenge; automation and interpretation of data analysis to make it more accessible to coaches and grassroots athletes is in its infancy; and our ability to identify ‘markers’ and ‘triggers’ in the data to inform better, faster decision-making is also in the early stages.

These are not purely technical challenges – although Vicon is at the forefront of continuing to push the limits of how the technology and how it integrates with training programs. There are also issues around the acceptance of greater data sharing and collaboration within the sports community.

Navigating these issues is crucial if we are to deliver the full benefits of motion tracking to athletes, coaches and the wider sporting community. In order to do that we need to look in detail not only at where progress has been made to date, but also at where we might be going next.

A vision for 2025

Vicon’s latest vision paper, Faster, higher, stronger? looks to identify the key trends and developments in motion tracking technology that will have the biggest impact on the sports community.

Drawing on Vicon’s own experts and industry voices from across academia and professional practice, the vision paper provides a range of perspectives and predictions for the next 12 months and up to 2025, highlighting the changes we can expect to see in how motion tracking is used in sports settings. For example, the paper looks at how:

  • App-based tracking solutions will increasingly make tracking data immediately available in the field
  • Tracking data will help build a comprehensive picture of what contributes to the highest levels of elite performance to optimise development pathways for athletes
  • Innovations from data and computer science will help create reference data to support real-time ‘biofeedback’ and break new ground in global data sharing between biomechanists

Ultimately, the paper suggests that we are at a genuine tipping point in how motion tracking technology is used in sporting contexts. In the coming years the insights from our panel of experts strongly points to the technology quickly becoming part of the fabric of sport – with increased use of tracking data for every professional team and athlete and a new wave of fundamental research that will help us understand the deeper truths behind human movement and sporting excellence.

The full Faster, higher, stronger? vision paper is available as a free download HERE.