March 2011

Vicon motion capture technology helps design shoes for skateboarders

The use of Vicon’s motion capture technology to help design skateboarding footwear was featured in February during National Engineers Week as an application that could inspire students to consider engineering careers and fields of study.

The Sole Technology Institute is using a Vicon system to capture accurate biomechanics data of skateboarders in action, to assist with the design of footwear that cushions impact and reduces injury.

In the STI lab, engineers have built a skate ramp with a force plate at the bottom. Skaters don a motion capture suit and the Vicon cameras capture the athlete in motion, while the force plate measures the impact when they land after jumps, tricks, riding ramps and rails, and falls.

“Jumping down stairs on a skateboard delivers an eight- to ten-times body weight impact, if you land cleanly. If not, it’s up to 17 times. Taking cushioning materials from shoes designed for basketball and putting them in skate shoes isn’t enough to protect people’s feet, especially kids,” said STI lab manager Jeremy Determan. “By knowing how much force is being applied on the foot, we were able to develop the first ever patented skateboarding cushioning technology for skate shoes, System G2. Vicon’s system and the accuracy of our motion capture data is a key tool in informing our research.”

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