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Traditional sports documented with motion capture imaging

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Players of Basque and Gaelic traditional sports, including pelota, Gaelic football, hurling and camogie, have been recorded using motion capture technologies to document the players' movements. The research is being conducted as part of an EU-funded project called RePlay, which aims to provide digital content of traditional sports and games for training, coaching and sharing knowledge about the sports.

Five Basque pelota players and four Gaelic football, hurling and camogie athletes have been recorded in HD footage in Oxford's Vicon studios. Vicon develops motion capture imaging hardware and software for applications in the life sciences, entertainment and engineering.

The research team is also developing a system based on low-cost sensors and open source 3D software to be used by interested clubs. It will be tested from next year with the aim to help young players learn traditional sports and enable experienced players to improve their skills.

The eight project partners from Spain, Ireland, Greece, the UK and Switzerland are building a motion capture system for sport clubs. They are also developing techniques to produce HD footage and to recover 3D motions from historical films.

‘I think it’s going to be a big step in professional training techniques for both players and coaches,’ said Kepa Arroitajauregi, a member of the pelota and Associated Sports' World Council.

In Europe there are more than 3,000 traditional sports and games, many of which are in decline.

‘This scientific endeavour is unique: it brings together cultural heritage, sport and cutting-edge technologies. It has never been seen before. It is also a chance to compare and analyse the evolution in the changes of styles of play over time, the evolution of our sports. Above all it is great for the young to see how they measure up against their heroes and improve their skills,’ commented Professor Noel O’Connor, the scientific coordinator of RePlay based at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Ireland.

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