Interactive Sleeve Boosts Top Athletes ~ Upcomming Technology News

Interactive Sleeve Boosts Top Athletes

TRAINING TOOL: Dr Richard Helmer with the interactive textile sleeve being tested by elite athletes. Photo: GLENN FERGUSON

The Australian netball team and elite basketballers are trialling the interactive textile technologies which provide a groundbreaking training tool.

The technology, developed at the Textile and Fibre Technology Division in Belmont, uses electronic sensors, sewn into clothing fibre, that respond to movement to provide feedback on sporting actions.

Dr Richard Helmer is leading the research, which aims to help athletes edge closer the high-performance zone, where they can do no wrong.

Dr Helmer has been collaborating with coaches at the Australian Institute of Sport for 18 months following the development of a prototype dubbed the ``air guitar''.

It's a wired-up clothing sleeve where sensors that monitor movement are fed into a computer and the movements are matched with music.

The research with elite athletes is about far more than wires, computers and music the musical feedback is designed to give them a feeling about their action, rather than a thought.

They already know how to throw,'' Dr Helmer said. ``We're not trying to mess with their action.

The work with the netballers is almost a psychological exercise.

At the moment we're allowing them to see or hear a rhythm that's related to their motion. We're trying to give them a new way of thinking about what they're doing without disrupting the subconscious processes that get the ball in (the net).

If that keeps them in the zone for four quarters, we've done our job.''

Later this year, the project will also begin working with amateur athletes with the idea of developing a training aid using data collected from elite athletes.

Dr Helmer sees many more applications for the technology in fields ranging from entertainment to education, physiotherapy, medicine and even military operations.


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