Nothing excites me more than helping an athlete reach their full potential. It tells me we’re doing our job. If we can use the smartest new tools to do that – in our case, optical tracking that captures hundreds of thousands of bio-mechanical data points across an entire human body – then we’re putting technology to good use. And that matters.
Our company’s mission was clear from day one: we help athletes to understand and care for their bodies, so that they improve their sporting performance, avoid injury, and maximise the potential of their career.
Optical tracking and motion capture: these are the tools we’ve developed and fine-tuned over many years. When we examine an athlete, we don’t need to place any markers or sensors on them; our cameras and our software do all the work. We produce a rich volume of data with each test delivering 800,000 data points – tiny individual pieces of information – that when collected and analysed together effectively can reveal incredible individual insights and provide every athlete with a new understanding of how their body moves, limb by limb, joint by joint.
The precise movements of a body, from its individual parts to its structure as a whole, contain vital information. Speed, strength, and balance are at stake. Using our database – the largest of its kind, with two million movement files and 48 billion stored data points – athletes can compare their entire range of movement with the relevant populations. They see where their performance sits within their age group, sex, and sport.
Likewise, they can assess their mobility at the most critical parts of the body: ankle, knee, hip, spine, and shoulder. Our analysis helps them to predict – and avoid – injury.
We can calculate the force and torque produced by each limb and joint as an athlete performs their usual moves. Our analysis helps them to move efficiently and safely.
And then we go deeper still. By testing an athlete’s balance and calculating how their centre of mass moves – we call it the ‘sway’ – we can begin to identify neurological issues. In the event of brain injury, we know the athlete’s baseline and can refer to it. Mind and body are one.
Our tools and methodology are safe and reliable. They’ve been tested and approved by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They’re also simple and efficient: as our software analyses their movement, athletes receive their results in less than 20 minutes.
The tests themselves follow a clear sequence. First, we explain the specific movements the athlete will need to complete during the test – the ones that allow us to assess the area of motion that concerns them most.
Then they move to an open space where our tools capture their movement. The test itself lasts five minutes.
When we sit down together at the review station, the athlete’s motion data becomes accessible, via the cloud, in 20 seconds.
Now the athlete has the full picture: a wealth of data that describes the strengths and weaknesses of their movement. They’re ready to talk with their doctor, who works through the data, highlighting the key findings. Together they agree how to improve movement and mobility in specific areas of the body. The full report is uploaded to the patient’s electronic record.
The beauty of the process lies in its simplicity and openness. At all times, the athlete sees and understands what’s happening – they experience themselves how the technology works and what it’s telling them. I like to think of them working with a new tool, one that will help them to improve their strength, their technique, their skill. A tool that helps them avoid injury.
But I can see the risks too. It’s not hard to imagine how professional clubs and their coaching staff or front office executives – in any sport – might abuse their players’ bio-mechanical data. Crucial decisions over recruitment, contracts, insurance, healthcare, and ultimately team selection – critical moments that can define an athlete’s career – might soon be driven by data that lies outside the player’s hands. Worse still, players may not even be aware of how their data is being used; they may not have given their consent. Therefore, trust and transparency must be developed to become key values across the industry, with the protection of athletes’ privacy remaining paramount.
This is why, at DARI Motion, we want our work to be regulated. This is why we secured the approval of a public institution, the FDA. It’s not only a question of whether new technologies are safe; it’s also about our users, the wider public, and their fundamental rights: do they understand the power of these tools, who precisely is using them, and for what purposes? Do they know how to protect their rights, starting with their privacy?
Trust is everything. If we believe that new technologies can help athletes to improve their performance, we need to be equally committed to their dignity as human beings. Every athlete needs to know that their privacy is respected, their data secure.
My message to both government and sport is simple: we need to have these discussions out in the open. Let’s do it now, while the technologies are relatively new. Let’s put in place the institutions that can set standards and enforce the rules.
And let’s find the common ground where everyone can move forward: a vision of professional sport where scientists and inventors work for the good of the industry, and athletes trust the technologies around them, knowing that their own personal data will help them to flourish, improve their performance, and reach their full potential.
Learn more about Dari Motion’s performance technology here.