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 Ear-sensor could help athletes go for gold

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Date posted: 23/09/2007

A sensor system, bearing more than a passing resemblance to a hearing aid could be the next step in the UK's bid for Olympic victory.

The small device fits discreetly behind the ear and provides the coach with real-time telemetry about an athlete?s gait and posture ? key factors that could mean the difference between silver and gold medals.

Conventional equipment used to monitor an athlete's performance includes multiple sensors that attach to different parts of the body. The new device is much less obtrusive and is also completely wireless, so that measurements can be made during normal activity on the sports field.

The device?s inspiration came from the workings of the inner ear, which helps the brain track a person's motion by measuring shockwaves transmitted through their skeleton. As the ear already has these sensors in it, why not tap straight into them?

The new device, called e-AR (ear-worn activity recognition), designed by Guang-Zhong Yang and a team at Imperial College, London, presses a capacitor to the ear that varies its capacitance according to tiny changes in acceleration - example the length, frequency, and force of each stride or the sway of their body.

See the full Story via external site: technology.newscientist.com

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