Analysis of Swimmer's Starting Block Jump

Photo of Daniel Chen (Team Lead), Daniel Jagodzinski, Kevin Schreck, and Miles Tabibian Students: Daniel Chen (Team Lead), Daniel Jagodzinski, Kevin Schreck, and Miles Tabibian

Sponsor: National Instruments

Date: Spring 2013

Requirements:
The wedge attachment must measure forces on two axes while having physical characteristics similar to wedges used in competitive swimming. The device must be waterproof to an IP rating of 65 to protect against splashes in a poolside environment. The Kinect motion tracking is required to track a swimmer's body from liftoff from the block until the swimmer enters the water. The database should automate and organize storage and retrieval of the collected data. Finally, the user interface must be operable by people of non-technical background, such as swimmers and coaches. Major constraints include a budget of $500 and the dimensions of the wedge as dictated by NCAA guidelines.

Problem:
In competitive swimming, only milliseconds separate the winners from the losers. A swimmer's jump off the starting block is a critical part of the entire race. The overall goal of this project is to develop a device that can measure the characteristics of a swimmer's starting jump and provide feedback to swimmers and coaches. This particular semester, the goal is to improve upon the hardware and software built by previous teams. Particular tasks include designing a wedge attachment, improving the waterproofing, implementing motion tracking through Microsoft Kinect, integrating a database into the software, and improving the user interface.

Solution:
A smart wedge was designed and fabricated out of wood and aluminum. It utilizes an array of sensors taken from Wii balance boards to take measurements along the normal and shear planes. The wedge is designed to be attachable and adjustable through a rail system. The waterproofing was improved through removal of external wiring, consolidation of electronic components onto a prototype board, and new acrylic side paneling and one piece shell. The team found that the Kinect could not reliably track fast moving bodies such as divers. The team recommended identifying a camera with a higher frame rate to implement motion tracking. The team created a database using Microsoft Access to store information about both swimmers and the test runs performed. This database also handles storage of data files recorded during test runs. Lastly, the user interface was overhauled by removing unnecessary controls and displays. Additionally, side-by-side comparison and automated initialization functionality were incorporated to improve the user experience.

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