Movement Analysis

The biomechanist’s motion capture purchasing checklist

09 Apr 2024

What is a motion capture system?

A motion capture system is a technology that records the movement and positioning of objects or individuals in three-dimensional space. It is widely used in fields such as biomechanics, movement science, and animation to accurately analyze and study human or object motion.

How can a motion capture system enhance the work of a biomechanist?

Motion capture systems provide biomechanists and movement scientists with valuable data and insights that can enhance research, clinical assessments, and the development of interventions. By capturing precise, three-dimensional movement data, researchers can gain a deeper understanding of factors such as joint kinematics, muscle activation patterns, and overall movement efficiency.

What does a motion capture system consist of?

A typical motion capture system includes the following key components:

  • Camera system: High-speed, high-resolution cameras that track the positions of markers placed on the subject or object.
  • Marker set: Reflective or active markers that are strategically placed on the body or object to be tracked.
  • Software: The software that processes and analyzes the motion data.
  • Calibration equipment: Tools used to set up and calibrate the system for optimal data collection.

Important considerations when purchasing a motion capture system

When evaluating and purchasing a motion capture system, consider the following factors:

  • Accuracy and precision: Ensure the system can provide the level of spatial and temporal accuracy required for your research or clinical applications.
  • Marker technology: Determine whether passive (reflective) or active (LED) markers best suit your needs in terms of ease of use, occlusion handling, and data quality.
  • Camera coverage: Assess the camera configuration and coverage area to ensure it can adequately capture the movement you need to study.
  • Software capabilities: Evaluate the motion capture software’s data processing, visualization, and analysis capabilities to ensure they meet your research or clinical requirements.
  • Expandability and compatibility: Consider the system’s ability to integrate with other equipment, such as force plates or EMG systems, to enable comprehensive biomechanical analysis.
  • Cost and maintenance: Determine the total cost of ownership, including initial purchase, installation, training, and ongoing maintenance and support.


Selecting the right motion capture system is crucial for biomechanists and movement scientists to effectively conduct research, assess clinical interventions, and gain valuable insights. By considering the key factors outlined in this checklist, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your specific needs and enhances the quality and impact of your work.

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