In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, an international team of researchers led by Cornell University have designed a new type of wristband called BodyTrak that monitors human body posture in 3D. This study holds the potential to improve body mechanics monitoring, particularly relating to precision-crucial physical activities, said Dr. Cheng Zhang, who is an assistant professor of information science at Cornell University, and a co-author on the study.
"Since smartwatches already have a camera, technology like BodyTrak could understand the user's pose and give real-time feedback," said Dr. Zhang. "That's handy, affordable and does not limit the user's moving area."
BodyTrak uses a combination of a dime-sized camera and an artificial intelligence (AI) neural network to read the “silhouettes” of the user’s body in motion to create 14 body poses both in real time and 3D. Essentially, BodyTrak doesn’t need to completely see the entire user’s body to monitor its poses and motions during physical activity.
"Our research shows that we don't need our body frames to be fully within camera view for body sensing," said Hyunchul Lim, who is a PhD student studying information science at Cornell University, and lead author of the study. "If we are able to capture just a part of our bodies, that is a lot of information to infer to reconstruct the full body."
Dr. Zhang and Lim recognize the importance of maintaining privacy for non-users of BodyTrak, which they say is mitigated due to BodyTrak’s camera being pointed toward the user’s body. They also recognize that present day smartwatches don’t possess adequate cameras and battery longevity to allow full body sensing, but it could later.
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