Physical rehab and athlete training in VR

February 19, 2016

ICSPACE exercise feedback display (credit: ICSPACE)

A virtual “intelligent coaching space” (ICSPACE) developed by Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) at Bielefeld University in Germany is assisting patients with physical rehabilitation and helping athletes improve their performance with sports exercises.

The user is 3D-scanned in advance and used to create an avatar. Participants wear 3D stereoscopic glasses, which create the impression of working out in a gym with a coach. Reflective markers attached to the user are tracked by infrared cameras and a virtual display allows users to watch themselves from various angles to see how they are performing the exercises and make improvements.

Mistakes made during movement exercises, such as bending one’s neck too far during a squat, are depicted in the display in an exaggerated way to draw attention to the error.

A virtual coach instructs a user how to do a squat (credit: CITEC/Bielefeld University)

A virtual coach is also available and can mark individual body areas on the display to show needed improvement. A slow-motion video of the user performing the exercise can demonstrate correct motions.

“The planned range of activities will include gymnastics exercises, tai chi, yoga, or, for example, how to swing a golf club,” says cognitive scientist Professor Thomas Schack.

The research is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Research TV Bielefeld University | ICSPACE: Exercise training in virtual reality

Abstract of Multi-Level Analysis of Motor Actions as a Basis for Effective Coaching in Virtual Reality

In order to effectively support motor learning in Virtual Reality, real-time analysis of motor actions performed by the athlete is essential. Most recent work in this area rather focuses on feedback strategies, and not primarily on systematic analysis of the motor action to be learnt. Aiming at a high-level understanding of the performed motor action, we introduce a two-level approach. On the one hand, we focus on a hierarchical motor performance analysis performed online in a VR environment. On the other hand, we introduce an analysis of cognitive representation as a complement for a thorough analysis of motor action.