University of Calgary research team runner-up at Armour39 Challenge for "sonic" workout monitor
U.S. fitness clothing company Under Armour awards $10K to three GRAND researchers for new athletic technology.
Posted by GRAND NCE, April 14, 2014

Three University of Calgary researchers have placed second in the international Armour39 Challenge for their prototype sports technology that "sonifies" motion. Team members Dr. Jeffrey Boyd (a GRAND CNI), Andrew Godbout (a GRAND HQP, MSc and PhD candidate), and Chris Thornton (a former GRAND undergrad at U of Calgary currently at Google, CA) were awarded $10,000 to take the technology to the next level. The technology was developed and promoted through the support of GRAND.

The competition, which drew submissions from thousands of innovators, offered a $25k grand prize, and the $10k runner-up prize, to anyone who can help “expand the capabilities” of the Armour39 - a performance monitoring system for athletes created by Baltimore-based sports apparel maker Under Armour. In addition to its investment in fitness bands, Under Armour holds a 70-percent share of the synthetic apparel market.

Using accelerometer data to produce real-time audio feedback during performance, the U of C research technology allows athletes to follow rhythmic audio feedback to correct and improve techniques. Speed skaters can use it to sharpen their corner-turning skills; runners can follow sonified footfalls to adjust timing and encourage shorter strides and faster cadence, helping reduce heal striking.

Through GRAND's support, the Calgary researchers entered the three-phase contest in November 2013. During Phase II of the contest, the research team demonstrated a modified system that uses the Armour39 accelerometers linked via Bluetooth to mobile devices. (See the team's submission video below). The researchers went on to the final Under Armour Future Show: Digital in April 2014. With five other finalists, the team presented their concept to the brand's executive team at Under Armour's global headquarters in Baltimore, MD.

As for the future, Dr. Boyd has said Under Armour has shown interest in supporting development of the team's technology. "There may also be an opportunity to work with our GRAND-supported start-up company to release some of this technology in the form of mobile apps," Dr. Boyd added.

Watch the team's submission video: