In the concluding half-year of my bachelor study Creative Technology, I challenged myself to a new topic, rowing, with the research question “How can Virtual Reality improve the current state of indoor rowing?”. I applied my skills in game development, human-computer interaction, and Virtual Reality in the creation of a prototype which stimulates rowers to use correct rowing technique, as seen in the picture below. My research was awarded a 9. Below you can see a short summary of the report.
The feasibility of low-cost Virtual Reality motion tracking for rowing technique analysis
Injuries are common among beginning rowers. One of the main reasons is rowers not using the proper technique. Automated methods for correcting faulty rowing technique are often expensive or have large delays. Therefore, this research proposes a novel method, using Virtual Reality (VR). The system consists of an ergometer with a set of low-cost VR motion tracking devices attached, which record the movement of the user, which is then analysed in real-time. Feedback is given using a Head-Mounted Display (HMD). To improve on the user’s immersion, a visually pleasing virtual environment is created, where a virtual representation of the user rows on a river and replicates the user’s movement using inverse kinematics. Extensive user tests were conducted, where 10 subjects used the proposed system, and 10 used traditional methods. The results show no significant difference in technique improvement between the two groups, and slight improvements on enjoyment and pressure/tension. The research concludes that the application of VR technology on indoor rowing is promising, since the tracking and analysis suffices to show improvement in technique over time, as well as improved immersion using the HMD. However, more research on the topic is recommended to draw more conclusive results.