How our mocap tech is benefitting biomechanics research at the University of Lincoln

Written by

07 April 2021

The University of Lincoln has been using Motion Analysis software in their biomechanics department since 2011, benefiting from a 12-camera system. 

Dr Franky Mulloy joined the UoL in 2014 and, after being impressed with the performance of the mocap tech that was already being used, set out to acquire the funding to buy a second and then third camera system. The University now has a total of 29 motion capture cameras operating in their two labs. We caught up with him to find out more about the work he does and how his experience of the Motion Analysis software, and the buying process has been.

Q: What are your specialisations and/or areas of interests within the field of biomechanics? 

My passion revolves around three areas of interest when it comes to the world of biomechanics:  human interaction with equipment; coordination in complex skills; and dance biomechanics, both from a performance and injury prevention perspective.

Q: Can you describe some of the work you’re currently doing? 

Working with UK police forces, we found that the police have a high prevalence of neck (76% of nearly 400 police surveyed) and upper back problems (84%) in the last year alone. This was attributed to the body armour and tactical vests which are required equipment for an operational officer. In response to these findings, I established a 3-year funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Arktis, a global tactical vest manufacturer that equips the majority of the UK police forces. Working with Arktis, and my post-doctoral researcher Dr Matthew Ellison, we have identified how we can alter tactical vests to better coordinate with the torso and head to reduce neck and back strain in dynamic activities. 

I’m also currently working with my other post-doc, Dr Olivia Brown, on another 3-year KTP. This focuses on the science to underpin trampoline designs with a global trampoline manufacturer, Plum Products Ltd. Alongside this, prior to the pandemic, I completed a 7-month longitudinal study focusing on core ballet skills with dancers. I used biofeedback to reduce injury risk in leap landing and enhance skill development in jumps and single leg balances. Safe to say, it has been a busy couple of years!

Q: Why did you start using Motion Analysis tech? What problem/pain points did you need the tech to solve? 

Motion Analysis has a variety of versatile and customisable software options. These work for us as a research group because we deal with large data sets for a range of different uses. The quality of data, ability to change a lot of capture settings (e.g. tracking options), and software interface are all hugely beneficial to the work I do as it allows me to have complete control of the data input and output, and avoid any ‘black box’ use. We also love that Motion Analysis tech allows for the integration of multiple technologies with the system, giving us greater flexibility for industry engagement to support research and development processes.

Q: What features of the tech have you benefited from the most and what are they used for? 

I mostly use standard motion capture to track kinematics, with integrated force plates. I also synchronise Delsys systems to incorporate EMG and EMG decomposition. I regularly tweak the tracking settings as it allows me to undertake varied data collections for different applications, but with clear kinematic tracking. This is helpful, because being an effective biomechanist requires precise data, and by being able to customise and manipulate different settings we can ensure we get reliable and accurate data. 

We also make use of the Sky Script coding feature to provide live biofeedback, and for batch processing large sets of data on multiple trials (we’re talking close to 5000 trials). It’s very time consuming to clean up large sets of data, and export force files for each, but being able to code in batch processing things means you can do it autonomously. 

Q: How has the support been from Motion Analysis since using their tech? 

We have received excellent support from Motion Analysis. I remember once we had an issue which resulted in a kinetic data lag that we were unable to fault find. We would be collecting data and it would randomly be a few seconds behind, and then sometimes drop out completely. One of the Motion Analysis technicians got back to us within 24 hours and remote accessed our lab computer for two days straight until the problem was solved. On top of that, they have also sent their team to train and upskill some of the staff here, even our very experienced users, and we’re always kept up to date with information about the software we currently use and any new software being launched – I’ve had only good experiences with this team. 

If you’re interested in experiencing how Motion Analysis software could benefit the work you’re doing in biomechanics, or learning more about our solutions, request a demo today!