Research Challenges
One of the biggest challenges facing sports technology today is to understand precisely how elite athletes achieve their feats. This requires pervasive sensing, both on-body and off-body, from biomechanical to physiological, to extract continuous, unperturbed information under normal training and competition environments to recreate the winning action. Miniaturised BSN with ultra-low power, high portability, robustness and frequency in an athletic situation is a formidable challenge. In most cases the demands of elite sport are more stringent than military environments. To achieve the ESPRIT vision, we aim to bring together technologies that allow minimally invasive, highly compliant monitoring of elite athletes in training and competition, and to build a physiological and predictive model of their responses and performance. The application of this performance knowledge into novel and innovative training and feedback tools presents a further unique challenge to capitalise on such insights for smarter athletic development. We will then extend this model and associated technologies to a paradigm shift in healthcare, workplace and wellness monitoring. The former will put the UK on the Olympic/Paralympic podium, whereas the latter will position the UK on the leading edge of health technologies. The key research focuses and challenges to be addressed by ESPRIT include:


Research Focus and Challenges

Generalised Body Sensor Networks

(Technical Annex I) 

Focus: to develop generalised body sensor networks that can seamlessly integrate both wearable and ambient sensors to provide a holistic, information rich environment to underpin the ESPRIT GOLD themes for deriving detailed physiological, biomechanical indices, accurate localisation and tactical information.

Challenges: ultra-low power mixed-signal ASIC and power MEMS; device miniaturisation; autonomic sensing; context awareness; distributed real-time processing.

Optimised Sensor Design and Embodiment

(Technical Annex II)

Focus: to provide individualised, quantitative, multi-parameter assessment to modulate dynamic training regimens, with technical objectives of non-intrusive, continuous (or rapid response) monitoring to avoid encumbering regular training routines.

Challenges: reliable bio-system access and sampling; sample interfacing with sensors; stable, reagentless operation and readout; device miniaturisation; deskilling of complex assay formats.

Learning, Data Modelling and Performance Optimisation
(Technical Annex III)

Focus: to provide an integrated approach towards modelling and performance optimisation by linking biomechanics, exercise physiology; biochemistry and psychology.

Challenges: subject specific models integrating biomechanical and physiological responses; multi-modal, multi-scale integration; causal inference; performance profiling (prediction of early signs preceding changes), and personalised adaptation, tactics; team dynamics and optimisation

Device and Technology Innovation
(Technical Annex IV)

Focus: to translate the new understanding of the elite athlete in themes G, O, L to guiding principles of performance optimisation through smart devices and innovative sports technologies.

Challenges: autonomic sensing, real-time feedback and adaptation; enhanced reality and visualisation; individualised optimisation (functional specific and on-line modelling); customisation (user centric focus, optimised Paralympic instrumentation), and technology migration and percolation (capability of ESPRIT beyond sports).