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Computer science and biomechanics in sports - interdisciplinary aspects in research and education.

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First applications of computers in sport science were reported in the middle of the sixties. In particular, computative numerical evaluations of biomechanical investigations and statistical analyses were performed with the mainframe computers available at that time. The facilities provided by computer and video technique have long been utilized when setting up measuring systems for collecting data to analyse sports movements biomechanically. The development of opto-electronic systems for obtaining kinematic data may serve as an example. Biomechanics has, however, not only made use of (technical) tools provided by informatics. Concepts and methods have also widely been applied and even further developed. Modelling, which is one of the central topics of computer science in sports, has a long tradition in biomechanics. Currently an increasing use of alternative modelling techniques like neural networks, fuzzy logic or genetic algorithms for modelling complex physical and biological processes can be observed.

Manifold examples can be given, which demonstrate that not only does computer science give valuable support to biomechanics but also computer science benefits from biomechanics. (1) One of the critical issues of computer animation is the generation of human motions that appear natural and realistic. Biomechanical simulations based on human body models may be used to create motion data fulfilling this condition. (2) The dynamics of multibody mechanical systems (such as the segmented human body) can be described by a differential-algebraic equation, which is difficult to solve. If elastic components are involved, the task becomes even more difficult. Problems of that kind give (and have given) impetus to numerical computing to develop efficient integration algorithms used in the simulation. (3) The use of multimedia in aspects related to sport is currently a widely discussed topic in sports science. Computer interactive learning and teaching programs used for education in sports biomechanics provide excelent means for demonstrating the potential of multimedia.

Multimedia is just one field applicable for teaching biomechanics and computer science in sports interdisciplinary. Data acquisition, data bases, modelling and simulation are others.

Selective examples from the authorĀ“s own work in this interdisciplinary area will be presented. Some thoughts on the future perspectives of this fruitful cooperation will conclude the lecture.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2001

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