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XSens 3D Motion Tracker: Use In Rehab, Sports and Filmmaking

Integrated motion tracking. 3D kinematic solutions. Wireless body area networks.

Those all sound like technologies of the future – but they’re already in widespread use today as crucial tools for an enormous range of applications.

Think about your Fitbit, a VR headset, or the trackers you might wear when trying to correct your golf swing. Now visualize sensors which are similar, but able to capture and measure all of your body’s movements rather than just a few of them.

What you’re imagining are 3D motion trackers, but they’re not imaginary. The leading motion analysis technology manufacturer, XSens, offers these trackers in several different forms. And they’re invaluable in industries from sports science and rehabilitation, to manufacturing and filmmaking.

XSens Products

The company’s most “relatable” product is the MTw Awinda, which is a wireless body sensor somewhat like the fitness tracker you may wear while running or walking, at the gym, or even when you sleep. The Awinda tracker, however, is designed to be used anywhere on the body (it’s attached by Velcro) and can easily be integrated into a “full body network.”
This tracker is extremely lightweight and small, weighing about half-an-ounce and measuring less than two inches by one inch by half-an-inch. It can also be used in temperatures ranging from 32° to 122° Fahrenheit, and its transmissions are incredibly reliable.

What’s most impressive about the Awinda, though, is that it is so sensitive that it picks up the subtle body motions that most trackers miss – and that it can provide real-time, drift-free 3D mapping of all movements. When multiple trackers are used with the XSens MT Software Suite (which works with Windows or Linux), they provide an unprecedented level of body motion data for immediate monitoring, recording or output.

The other XSens system, the MVN Biomech Link, is even more advanced. It features 17 interconnected motion trackers which are integrated into a Lycra body suit with its own body pack, WiFi Access point and Ethernet camera. The wealth of incredibly-sensitive and accurate data provided by the MVN Biomech Link can be used to create 3D animations of body movements, as well as high-level graphical representations and movies.
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Uses for XSens Sensors

This is obviously some pretty cool stuff. But what’s really cool are the ways these tools, particularly the MVN Biomech Link, are already being used. Here are just a few.

  • Biomechanical analysis: Studying minute-by-minutes motion of athletes lets training staff and researchers compare athletes who suffer injuries during play with those who don’t. That allows them to identify problematic movements, so teams can be coached to optimize their mechanics and avoid risky moves on the field. The same types of analyses have helped trekkers optimize their performance in extreme conditions, and helped trainers discover early signs of lameness in their horses’ gaits.
  • Rehabilitation: From medical labsh to rehab facilities, XSens equipment is being used to better understand and then implement protocols to refine and speed rehabilitation techniques. Just a few examples: motion sensors are used to track progress and provide feedback for stroke patients, to predict the risk of dangerous falls among the elderly, and to improve rehab techniques for those suffering from lower back pain.
  • Other Uses: These body sensors and suits are being used for more and more applications as the capabilities of the technology are recognized. The MVN Biomech has been used to evaluate the ergonomics of assembly line workstations and the design of GM car doors, for real-time control of robots by humans wearing the sensor suit, and to create improved augmented reality and virtual reality experiences with systems like the Oculus Rift.
And XSens sensors, combined with MVN Studio software, have given animators and filmmakers a powerful new tool; it’s already been used in the production of films and video games like X-Men: Days of Future Past, Tomb Raider and Ted.

Whether helping in critical medical research or making really cool games, XSens 3D motion trackers are already making a major impact on our everyday lives – even if we don’t realize it.
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