British bobsleigh turns to video analysis for competitive edge

The British Olympic bobsleigh team is using video surveillance technology orginally used by police forces in order to improve its performance ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

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The British Olympic bobsleigh team is using video surveillance technology orginally used by police forces in order to improve its performance ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The British Bobsleigh Association has signed a three year deal with Scyron for its surveillance system, and is using four cameras positioned along its training track for frame-by-frame video performance analysis.

The system transmits digital video wirelessly to a central reviewing station where software allows the team to study their performance in detail using multi-screen, split screen, frame-by-frame and overlay functionality. The goal is to shave even fractions of a second off their run times.

The Scyron system was designed for first the police service to provide targeted analysis of surveillance footage and presentation of video evidence in court.

"The system means we can analyse the run instantly. By the time the athlete gets back to the start, we can go through their performance and work on areas for improvement. Previously, this would have happened several hours later in front of a TV a long way from the track," said Richard Simmons, performance director for the British bobsleigh team.

"The instant feedback we’re getting provides a competitive edge, and is proving particularly useful for perfecting our starts, where the slightest error can cost you a place on the medal winners’ rostrum," he added.

As well as developing and providing the technology, the Birmingham-based company has seconded a technician as a full-time member of the bobsleigh team until the completion of the 2010 Olympics.

Scyron plans to develop the system to incorporate telemetry data transmitted from an onboard computer in the bobsleigh for additional relevant information, such as speed into turns, g-force and lines into bends.

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