As results vary for athletes engaging in strength and conditioning exercises, a student at the National University of Ireland, Galway, has recently developed a Shimmer and LabVIEW based virtual assistant to aid users with their training and with monitoring their performance.
The system uses Shimmer sensors to record the athlete’s range of motion and deliver real-time biofeedback. The aim is to assist athletes of varying skill levels and to maximize their performance, when engaging in strength and conditioning exercises.
The system provides ongoing feedback on the user’s progress and can make users aware of their I-Rep Max (maximum amount of weight one can lift in a single repetition); it also shows the user in real-time whether dangerous movements are being recorded and if exercises are being done safely.
Recently, we had an opportunity to discuss the system with it’s designer Martin O’ Reilly, to understand its merits and to determine how the Shimmer LabVIEW based system was put together.
Using Shimmer and LabVIEW
Martin had a range of experience in the area of personal training in advance of delivering this system. As well as studying for a B.E. in Sports and Exercise Engineering, Martin had access to Olympic athletes and biomechanics experts who helped him evaluate ideas during development.
Taking this level of expertise into account, it was noted by Martin that the Shimmer hardware and its use with LabVIEW made building this type of system less challenging and allowed it to be delivered in a short time period.
The Shimmer sensors provided data detailing the athlete’s range of motion, and the provision of the Shimmer LabVIEW Library from Shimmer allowed this data to be used quickly and effectively with LabVIEW. The “graphical programming method was very intuitive and allowed me to test ideas faster using visuals”.
For users who have less experience with signal processing, Martin also noted that the calibration of the Shimmer sensors was made easy by using the Shimmer 9DoF Calibration Application. A steady routine of charging the units and ensuring they had been calibrated produced the desired data output for the project.
The system needed to be useable across a range of athletes and with different exercises as Martin aimed to “create a technology solution without athletes necessarily having to use a personal trainer”. Martin was able to leverage both the LabVIEW library and the Shimmer LabVIEW library throughout the development process and he inserted front panel objects and PNG images to deliver an attractive UI.
System Features and Future Planning
A key benefit of the system that Martin was pleased with is the ability to auto store the data. The real-time transmission of this data from the Shimmer 9DoF sensors to the LabVIEW system where it can be stored makes users more aware of their improvements as they resume training sessions in the future. From work out to work out the system tells you “exactly what you should lift and how you should lift it”.
The color coded system also allows the user to monitor their tempo while performing exercises. An athlete can select a training goal as: ‘Strength’, ‘Power’ or ‘Size’ and this will affect parameters such as their tempo guide, the weight they should lift and the target number of reps and sets.
Martin has plans to add more exercises to the system which will allow it to be used in other scenarios outside of strength and conditioning specifically.It has also been mentioned that a more mobile or Android based version of the system could be pursued in the future along with incorporating additional sensing parameters like EMG or ECG.
At this stage however, it is clear that future revisions of this system will only increase its appeal to a wider range of end users.
See full details on Martin’s system via the project poster page or to ‘Rate’ this project as part of LabVIEW’s Student Design Competition (must be logged into NI account), please click the links below.
- Virtual Personal Trainer Application Poster
- Rate the project in the LabVIEW Student Design Competition