Analysis of a Swimmer's Starting Block Jump

Photo of Zach Chan, Brady Morrison, Jeff Wang, Erick Zuber Students: Zach Chan, Brady Morrison, Jeff Wang, Erick Zuber

Sponsor: National Instruments

Date: Fall 2012

Requirements:
The desired outcome of this project was to create a user interface that can process and display data in a way that is useful for people without technical backgrounds. The user interface was built with National Instrument's LabVIEW and incorporates the swim block prototype produced by a previous design team as well as a webcam to capture video. The project requires accurate measurements of the forces on the starting block, the angle of entry into the water, and the initial velocity of the swimmer. The software must synchronize video and force data in an easy-to-understand format. The software also must guide the user through the program, to ensure proper use of its functions.

Problem:
A swimmer's jump off the starting block is crucial to his or her performance in a race. The normal and shear forces exerted by a swimmer, in addition to the angle and speed of entry into the water, are essential parameters in determining the effectiveness of a swimmer's jump. There is currently no stand-alone technology to analyze swimmers' starts, so they must rely on guidance from coaches to pinpoint areas for improvement. This project's goal was to develop hardware and software to assist coaches in improving swimmers' starts through starting block data analysis in conjunction with a video recording system.

Solution:
The team worked on the project in three phases. First, using LabVIEW and an HD webcam, the team created a program to record the swimmer's jump, while tracking the position of their body through the air. The data from this program determines the entry angle of the swimmer, while the video from this program shows the path the swimmer took. Secondly, the team developed a user interface (UI) to interpret the results from the vision system, combined with the results from the force transducers on the swim block. The program connects to the swim block through Bluetooth® while it connects to the camera through USB. Additionally, the program can run on a computer without LabVIEW. In the final phase, we tested device's ability to concurrently process video and force data. Additional work still needs to be done to further develop this product, such as weight reduction, water proofing, and integration of a more advanced camera system, such as a Microsoft Kinect®.

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