The team at figur8 announced today that they will be releasing their research and development kit. The kit is aimed at universities and research institutes looking to digitize 3D body movement. The wearables for assessment and rehab offer instantaneous feedback, something not available to other motion capturing systems, but it has several other advantages.
Wearable computing is still a relatively new area of research and development. figur8 CEO Nan-Wei Gong and Director of Sports Medicine Dr. Donna Scarborough have been there from the beginning and have seen the limitations of each iteration. Digitizing 3D body movement has always been a cumbersome and expensive process. This video, for instance, shows an early prototype.
Even though it looks bulky enough to be from a sci-fi film in the 70s, that prototype is from 2002. It’s bulky. It’s completely impractical for measuring any sort of sports activity. That’s Dr. Donna following along with the cable, by the way.
Something with the comfort, ease and accuracy of the figur8 system literally has never existed. There’s more beta testing to be done, but the system is nearly fully finished.
The stretch sensors are available in two lengths: 50mm and 100mm. The R&D kit will include two stretch sensors along with all the documentation for getting the sensors and related apps working together.
The research kit uses two apps—the data logger app uses a smartphone to capture neuromuscular feedback from the sensors during an activity. Another part of the app uses the phone’s camera to take video while the data is being recorded. Users are then asked to save the file for later use. Data is instantly available and updates in realtime while the app is recording. The data logger app is set up to log information that is specified to a particular location the body - it can be a joint angle or an isolated individual muscle group like bicep or tricep. The data processing app runs on a desktop or laptop. It can produce charts and graphs for comparison and contrast across several different metrics. Both apps are still in beta.
The R&D kit is presently being offered to specific partners through academic channels. figur8 will offer a general commercial release of the kit in the future but have not set a firm date. The development kits are a portable, real-time, low-cost alternative to other more complicated and expensive systems that either assess muscle health without allowing movement or that track body movement without offering neuromuscular feedback.