Sports science embraces virtual technology at Swinburne Open Day

Monday 22 July 2019 by Nick Adams, Communications and Media

Using VR program on a computer.

The VR experience was developed by Swinburne researchers and utilises cutting-edge movement technologies.

In summary

  • A sports science virtual reality experience will be available for crowds to try at Swinburne Open Day 2019
  • Uses VR in conjunction with motion and pressure sensors to test gait and balance
  • Just one of the activities available to try at Swinburne Open Day 2019

A unique sports science virtual reality (VR) experience will be showcased at Swinburne’s Open Day on Sunday 28 July. It will allow attendees to test their gait and balance, offering insights that could help optimise their athletic performance.

The bespoke experience, developed by Swinburne researchers, uses VR in conjunction with motion and pressure sensors to give prospective students a taste of the cutting-edge technologies at Swinburne’s newly-created Health Precinct.

Lecturer in motor learning and control, Dr Dominic Orth, says the technology has the potential to help us to remotely, and cost-effectively support training and intervention across a huge range of tasks.

“This technology enables us to collect an individual’s adaptive capabilities during a variety of tasks performed in a fun, engaging medium. In this case, by understanding where people hesitate when moving through the test, or how they tackle obstacles, we can pinpoint which areas can be improved through training,” says Dr Orth.

Two people using a VR headset and program.
The VR experience uses a combination of motion and pressure sensors to test balance and gait. 

“We are one of the few places in the world using this combination of technology in the field.”

Course Director of exercise and sport science, Associate Professor Amanda Benson, says this VR technology is being used by Swinburne students from their first year of study.

“Our sports and exercise science students are given access to these kinds of advancements and facilities such as this from the beginning of their studies. Embedding this into our curriculum enables our students to become future-ready learners who are adept at dealing with ever-changing technology, preparing them for the job of the future,” says Associate Professor Benson.

On the day

As part of Open Day at Swinburne’s Hawthorn Campus, crowds can stop by the Biomechanics Lab, part of the Health Precinct, to experience the technology firsthand.

Crowds using a large touchscreen at Swinburne Open Day.
Swinburne's Health Precinct is fitted with the latest technologies that students can use from day one of their studies. 

Other highlights from this year’s Swinburne Open Day include:

  • Lost & Found - Meet the Swinburne alumnus behind Oscar-shortlisted animation. Watch the stop-motion film and hear from director Andrew Goldsmith about the film’s success and how the team achieved it.
  • The Cubby House Collective - Swinburne trades students have created cubby houses complete with plumbing and electricity
  • See live images from Hawaii’s Keck Observatory which Swinburne can remotely operate, marvel at the precision and power of the telescopes, and hear what their research has revealed.
  • Health precinct tours - Explore Swinburne’s new exercise and sport science labs, see human-sized iPads in the anatomy lab, test anaerobic power in the exercise physiology lab, and get hands-on with the tech that physios use in practice.

For a complete list of all activities happening on the day, check out: Swinburne Open Day 2019