§ Generalised Body Sensor Networks (Lead Prof Guang-Zhong Yang) - This is to develop a platform technology for monitoring the athlete while freely ambulatory in challenging environments. For this theme, there are two underlying strands of research. One is to extend (generalise) the current BSN platform to incorporate both wearable and ambient sensing to facilitate human dynamometric modelling, onto which we can then superimpose physiological and psychological responses. These are particularly useful as they cross every Olympic and Paralympic sport where mechanical, technical and tactical information is paramount, e.g. track and field, team sports, target sports. Technically, it will also focus on context aware and fault tolerant sensing, distributed processing and wearable/ambient sensor fusion. The second strand of the research is to push the current frontier of BSN to achieve ultra-low power design through the concurrent progress of ultra-low power mixed signal ASIC, power MEMS, and mapping on-node processing to bio-inspired mix-signal ASIC architecture. With this theme (detailed in Annex I), we aim to address immediate translation of the current BSN technology for elite sports performance training, and through ESPRIT to seek further technological innovation and performance leap that can also benefit other applications such as healthcare.
§ Optimised Sensor Design and Embodiment (Lead Prof Pankaj Vadgama) A crucial need to understanding the mechanisms that underlie athletic performance is the ability to measure biochemical changes during training, competition and subsequent adaptation, necessitating innovative leaps in biosensor design. For this research theme, sensors will be variously designed for minimally invasive (dermal) monitoring, on body measurement and deskilled in vitro assay in the case of complex targets. Each poses special challenges in the context of sport science if tracking of a highly mobile subject is to be achieved without disruption to the sensing and sampling process. For dermal monitoring, devices will have to be designed for unobtrusive, pain-free application; for on body use, sampling will need to accommodate tissue or blood, and for this the basic principles of microfluidic methodology will be adapted for sample connectivity to surface distributed sensors; in the case of complex in vitro analyses, multilayer and lateral flow devices will be advanced. The work will be divided into four workpackages, addressing, respectively, micro-sampling, bioelectrochemical sensing interfaces, optical waveguides and functional textiles. Detailed deliverables and links to the other themes are described in Annex II.
§ Learning, Data Modelling and Performance Optimisation (Lead Dr Christian Cook) Elite sport performance requires in-depth knowledge of the interplay of biomechanics, exercise physiology, biochemistry and psychology. This research theme is to unify information derived from ESPRIT to athletic performance and answer the key question of what the data means in terms of guiding athletic performance and how such knowledge can provide insight into biomechanical, physiological and biochemical processes during training and competition, e.g. synchronised and integrated measurement of free testosterone, heart rate,
, ECG, muscle activity, joint speed and contact forces. This permits interventional approaches such as different training, offloading periods, warm-ups, recovery protocols and competition, allowing the examination of the influence of different stress loading onto different performance features such as the timing relative to physical training and ability to learn and execute new skills. This theme aims to leap from the traditional descriptive models to predictive optimisation by using experimental perturbation of the athletic training system and its resultant physiological functions, and to act as a basis for modelling general population wellness. The key research packages as detailed in Technical Annex III include development of subject and sport specific models, multi-modal and multi-scale integration, exploring causal inference and adaptation and optimisation.
- Device and Technology Innovation (Lead Prof Paul Conway) This theme will focus on novel sport technology and smart instrument design (sensor enabled and ergonomically/dynamically optimised) based around physiological and tactical data in applied sports settings. It will be concerned primarily with applying the field-based sensor data from the G and O themes combined with the modelling and performance strategies of L to assist in the development of bespoke training and feedback simulators which provide enhanced learning environments for athletic performance. Examples will include the development of enhanced reality environments to simulate competition events; the development of smart materials and sensors which provide interactive feedback to an individual for learning and technique development; and, non-contact based feedback systems to assist with aspects such as pacing in rhythmic based sporting events. Such techniques are also critical during the process of learning movement patterns after injury. This theme also serves the important role of requirements, gap analysis, and design and regulatory considerations for the entire programme. It will also manage the technology migration and percolation for ESPRIT with a view to identifying aspects that would be appropriate targets for wider stakeholder engagement and dissemination/technology transfer. It will also identify specific out-reach activities to maximise the potential impact. Details are provided in Technical Annex IV.
- Elite Sport Demonstrators (Lead Dr Scott Drawer) This theme (Annex V) is to illustrate the seamless and integrated links between the proposed themes of G, O, L, D across a number of exemplar elite sports; each exemplar attempts to provide specific insights into the current research challenges within the outlined application and maps how each theme will bring the proposed deliverables to fruition. These exemplars will cover aspects of strength/power development; endurance; bi-polar training (mix of speed/power and endurance); skill development; team scenarios; and equipment links with Paralympians. The sports include British Bob Skeleton, Cycling, Sailing, and Wheelchair Racing, and will cross many others as the technologies evolve, e.g., rowing, athletics, canoeing, swimming. One sport outside the Olympic sphere has also been chosen, rugby, as it has a focus of the 2011 World Cup providing an early platform for the proof of concept. In addition we have a unique link to the NZ All Blacks that gives a Northern Southern hemisphere collaborative and comparative opportunity.
- Healthcare, Wellbeing and Elderly Care (Lead Drs Benny Lo/Louis Atallah) This theme (Annex VI) is to illustrate the translational value of the ESPRIT sensing paradigm for healthcare, wellbeing and elderly care. It will demonstrate application and potential future research and innovation across a number of exemplars (rehabilitation of total knee replacement, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) management, stress and wellbeing, and ageing research) drawn from supporting healthcare research institutions.