Modern systems for digitizing body movements cannot be called too simple or sufficiently accurate. The most sophisticated of the techniques require either bulky wearables or forcing them to move in front of an array of cameras. Researchers from Tufts University in Massachusetts promise to drastically simplify the process of digitizing body movements. The technology is so simple that it could become widely available in form-fitting clothing.
The idea is that strands coated with a conductive carbon-based paint are pressed against the skin. During the movement of the body, the threads are pulled and relaxed, which leads to a change in resistance. These changes are recorded by the electronics, since a weak current is passed through the threads. The rest of the work falls on a learning chip, which interprets the dynamics of changes in resistance in control areas in accordance with body movements.
In the experiment, scientists placed two conductive threads in a criss-cross pattern on the subject’s neck. He turned his head from side to side, and the electronics recorded the dynamics of changes in resistance in the threads. The system determined changes in direction, angles of rotation and degrees of head displacement with an accuracy of 93%. This technology is likely to work just as well for tracking the movement of other parts of the body, although algorithms must be specially trained for each one.
The research team hopes that someday their proposed system will evolve into lightweight sensors on the skin or even tight-fitting clothing that can be used for such purposes as discrete monitoring of athletic performance, checking the fatigue of truck drivers, monitoring patients with Parkinson’s disease, and finally, for virtual reality entertainment.
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