IMeasureU, a division of the Academy Award-winning motion capture leader Vicon, announces the release of IMU Step, a new piece of motion-sensing wearable tech designed to track the movements of professional and amateur athletes.
Early units are already being used by both professional sports and collegiate programs alike, including the NBA, Pac-12 schools and Harvard University to help train and rehabilitate athletes across a wide variety of sports.
Consisting of two small, lightweight sensors that produce highly accurate movement data, IMU Step gives coaches and athletes the ability to precisely measure the movements and stress put on athletes’ bodies in any running-based sport. While IMU Step will soon be available to the public, IMeasureU has been working with professional and collegiate athletes for years.
Harvard University recently used IMU sensors to study the impact of runners in the Boston Marathon, and Pac-12 schools the University of Oregon, Stanford, USC and the University of Colorado are also currently using the sensors to help understand the injuries commonly sustained by cross country runners.
“IMU sensors allow for the collection of biomechanics data in the wild,” said Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Irene Davis. “Devices like IMU Step allow the assessment of movement patterns on the court or in the field, and help to bridge the gap between laboratory research and applied sports science.”
IMU Step records movement data through two synchronized sensors placed above the ankle bone. The data is then interpreted through algorithms and software that precisely quantify the impact of each step an athlete takes.
Unlike most single-sensor wearables that treat the body as a single unit of mass and only focus on distance, speed and heart rate, IMU Step precisely measures and classifies how hard each limb hits the ground to calculate asymmetries and workout intensity in order to offer an accumulative “bone load” score for each athlete’s training session.
For running-based sports like basketball, where over 40% of injuries are sustained on the foot and ankle, these metrics can help coaches and trainers remove the guesswork from a player’s journey back from a lower limb injury, and dramatically reduce the risk of re-injury.
The analysis of an athlete’s lower limbs and bone loading impact generated through IMU Step offers a first of its kind look at each athlete’s body and the impact of workouts on their musculoskeletal system.
With enough data, IMU Step can create individual profiles for athletes, making it easier to produce personalized workouts and rest schedules. Even if the players themselves feel fine, constant metrics alert trainers and coaches to potential problems before they happen, ensuring that their athletes are at optimal strength for when it’s time to compete.
The data can also help with recovery by enabling effective observations and strategic planning that personalizes the rehabilitation process and prevents future injuries.
“IMU Step brings about a new understanding of injury biomechanics as we move outside of the lab and obtain accurate measurements in the real world,” said Dr. Thor Besier, co-founder and chief scientist at IMeasureU.
“Using the data collected with IMU Step, athletes, coaches, trainers and support staff can make informed decisions about how to get athletes healthy, and how to keep them that way.”