From healthcare to sports, here is how motion capture technology is changing our lives!
In May 2022, the Swedish band ABBA reunited to perform a concert looking exactly like they used to back in the 70s when they first rose to fame. The concert featured digital versions (called ABBA-tars) of the group created using motion capture technology. Fans were thrilled to see ABBA, saying that it felt like they had gone back in time and that the technology was outstanding.
If you are unfamiliar with motion capture technology, it is the process of digitally tracking and recording the movement of objects and people. Motion capture is on the up and up, with the sector expected to grow to US$377 million by 2028. But this growth isn’t just going to come from the entertainment industry. The capabilities of motion capture technology extend way beyond making your favorite artists appear ageless. Curious to know more? Let’s take a look at the different industries that use motion capture.
Motion capture has been used in the medical industry for a while now. It was, in fact, originally designed to be used in clinical treatment.
Medical practitioners use motion capture to check the movement of people suffering from conditions that impair mobility, like cerebral palsy. The movement of the patient is recorded and then recreated so that the doctor can closely study their gait and walking patterns and suggest how to go about treating the condition accordingly.
Today, companies have stepped up to work on preventative care solutions using motion capture technology. For instance, the U.S.-based environmental, health and safety (EHS) software company Velocity EHS has devised sensorless motion-capture assessment solutions to verify how ergonomic a workspace is. Post this, the user is also guided on how the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) can be reduced based on data collected from millions of MSD (which is the single largest category of workplace injuries) risk data points.
Motion capture combined with virtual reality (VR) is used by military researchers to assess and treat the injuries of military personnel. One of the places where motion capture is actively used in rehabilitation is The Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Centre in the UK. Here, the researchers study human movements to a precise degree so that they can help patients learn how their injuries are affecting their movements. Using this information, patients can continue their recovery process even after they leave the centre.
Similarly, established in Loughborough in England, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) uses 3D motion capture cameras in combination with the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (Caren) machine to simulate patients’ movements across different terrains. The motion capture cameras allow the medical team to analyze which muscles are being used so that the patient can get a complete visual of when they are putting more weight on one foot than the other and so on.
Sports is another industry where motion capture technology is extremely useful. Sports science research uses inertial motion capture technology that combines—an accelerometer (measures the speed of movement), a gyroscope (measures the change in rotational angle) and a magnetometer (measures magnetic field).
Having these performance metrics can help the athlete know how they can go the extra mile and become the best of the best at their sport. From a coach’s perspective, motion capture helps them come up with better strategies on how to position players on the field based on their strengths and weaknesses to achieve the best results.
One of the companies working within this space is the Australian startup VR Motion Learning. The company has created a VR tennis application called Tennis Esports that will be capable of tracking players’ movements and giving them feedback on how they can improve their performance.
Another company working on improving athletic performance is the UK-based football tech company Playermaker. The company has developed sensors that are installed on footwear to give coaches insights on how an athlete’s skills can be improved, what their risk of injuries looks like and how to accelerate recovery speed in case of injury.
As motion capture technology advances and becomes cheaper and more accessible, it will become even more useful in understanding human movement. This can give us high-quality experiences in films, TV shows and video games. We are already seeing the advent of devices, like Stretch Sense’s motion capture gloves to measure accurate hand movement for character animation in games. But as our understanding of human movement improves, we would be better able to use our physical abilities to their maximum potential.
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