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Project led by IT researchers takes home a Sports Science Award

by IT on 30-10-2020

SwimBIT, an IT-led project hoping to enhance swimmers’ performance, has won a 2020 Sports Science Award. (see more) The winning paper in the “Sports Training” category — titled “Desenvolvimento de uma unidade de medida inercial de baixo custo para controlo e avaliação do treino de nadadores” — is authored by IST student Eduardo Félix and supervised by IT researchers Hugo Silva and Paulo Correia, in partnership with Pedro Morouço from the Polytechnic of Leiria. The aim was to design a convenient, light and low-cost measuring unit that could help swimmers and coaches in daily training, by measuring technique, improving performance and preventing potential injuries. The research resulted in the development of a web application that provides training session statistics, taken from data collected by the SwimBIT unit. “This work presented end-to-end technical solutions, from aspects related to hardware applied to the athlete, signal processing, machine learning, and end-user software, also comprising the theoretical foundations of the application domain”, said Hugo Silva. The measuring unit, which was tested on 13 swimmers with different competitive levels, was able to detect most techniques with 90-100% precision. The proposed hardware collects a set of signals from swimmers based on an attitude and heading reference system (AHRS), while a machine learning workflow for data analysis is used to extract indicators and evaluate swimmers’ performance. Researchers say future work will focus on testing the SwimBIT on other body locations, using multiple units at the same time, and improving the classification accuracy. “Collaboration with experts in swimming was very useful to design the prototype. We hope that new projects will allow us to continue the work and to validate developments”, said Paulo Correia. Hugo Silva added: “We would be very interested in licensing the device and moving towards commercialization. In order to achieve this, we need to rely on complementary sources of financing that will allow us to increase the solution's TRL [Technology readiness level]”. The Sports Science Awards are delivered annualy by the Portuguese Olympic Committee and the Millennium BCP Foundation, in partnership with VISÃO magazine. The awards were created to encourage and reward the best research projects developed in Portugal, within Sports Science. In this year's edition, the organization awarded prizes in the Sports Training, Psychology and Sports Pedagogy and Sports Medicine categories. The first place in each category received a monetary prize of 5,000 euros and each honourable mention received 1,000 euros, as an incentive to pursue further research.