A BODYSUIT used by Hollywood animators is being adapted by Wearside researchers for possible improvements to sport and healthcare.
Sensors on the suit capture the body’s movements and reproduce them as a 3D computer image.
It was used to create the animated alien in the science fiction comedy movie Paul, but is also used by the military.
Now Sunderland University has become one of the first in the country to use the MNV Biomech suit to help with research in areas such as biomechanics, sports science, nurse training, rehabilitation and ergonomics.
“The suit allows us to take 3D motion capture out of the lab and into the real world,” said Dr Bob Hogg, senior lecturer in sports technology. “The university believes the investment in this new piece of equipment will prove invaluable to our research projects, as it has endless possibilities which really could make a life-changing difference to people, professionally and personally.”
Dr Hogg said the suit was already being used to research saddle designs for the safety and performance of professional horse riders, including disabled riders.
Students will also be using it to look at improving efficiency for wheelchair athletes.
He added: “Another area where we are sharing our equipment and knowledge is with our post-registration nurses, where we hope to improve their postural positions when lifting patients, which adds a health and safety element to the research.”
Dr Hogg said the university was keen to work with public sector and private companies who may wish to use the suit for their own research projects.
It has also attracted the attention of Dr Ian Thompson, a research chemist and husband of Paralympic athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson, who is interested in linking up with the university.
He said: “I am really looking forward to investigating wheelchair racing techniques with this tool.”