Running data vest plan

All (well, both) of us at DRE have science/engineering backgrounds, so wanting data to work with is second nature.  In addition, we’re runners.  There are some tools available for gathering running data, such as heart rate monitors and GPS watches, but there can always be more.  One area of potential interest that I haven’t seen included in consumer-level products is multi-point body acceleration.  Some devices use accelerometers, for step count and step rate, but that’s about it.

Personally, I have a bit too much of a bounce in my stride when I run on trails.  I want a way to track my core body movement relative to direction of travel in three dimensions, so that I can quantify and work to reduce that bounce.  My plan is to use a running vest outfitted with 3-5 accelerometers (definitely one in the center of the back, and then both hips and/or both shoulders) and a GPS tracker to gather data on how my body moves over different terrain.  If I add on a heart rate sensor I could then correlate speed and body movement to a rough measure of exertion, and look for more efficient running patterns for different terrains and body conditions (the most efficient form at the beginning of a long race may not be the most efficient form 12 hours later).

The first cut will store the data locally on the device for analysis after the workout.  A nice improvement on that would be to have it stream the data over Bluetooth to a nearby phone, and an improvement on that would be tools to provide real-time visualization to help a coach or trainer observe a runner’s form.  Once the data has been analyzed, it may be possible to have the device determine form efficiency on the fly and notify the user when they’re running poorly.  All that comes later, though.  The first step is just to get the initial prototype up and running.

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