PERSEUS: Platform for Enhanced virtual Reality in Sport Exercise Understanding and Simulation
The PERSEUS (Platform for Enhanced virtual Reality in Sport Exercise Understanding and Simulation) is funded by the Central Innovation Programme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (ZIM – Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand) from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
To support performance, elite athletes, such as goalkeepers, require a combination of general visual skills (e.g. visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, depth perception) and performance-relevant perceptual-cognitive skills (e.g. anticipation, decision-making). While these skills are typically developed as a consequence of regular, on-field practice, training techniques are available that can enhance those skills outside of, or in conjunction with, regular training. Perceptual training has commonly included sports vision training (SVT) that uses generic stimuli (e.g. shapes, patterns) optometry-based tasks with the aim of developing visual skills, or perceptual-cognitive training (PCT), that traditionally uses sport-specific film or images to develop perceptual-cognitive skills. Improvements in technology have also led to the development of additional tools (e.g. reaction time trainers, computer-based vision training, and VR systems) which have the potential to enhance perceptual skill using a variety of different equipment in on- and off-field settings that don’t necessarily fit into these existing categories.
In this context we hypothesize that using high-fidelity VR systems to display realistic 3D sport environments could provide a mean to control anxiety, allowing resilience-training systems to prepare athletes for real-world, high-pressure situations and hence to offer a tool for sport psychology training. Moreover, a VE should provide a realistic rendering of the sports scene to achieve good perceptual fidelity. More important for a sport-themed VE is high functional fidelity, which requires an accurate physics model of a complex environment, real time response, and a natural user interface. This is of course complemented by precise body motion tracking and kinematic model extraction. The goal is to provide multiple scenarios to players at different levels of difficulty, providing them with improved skills that can be applied directly to the real sports arena, contributing to a full biomechanical training in VR.
The project proposes the development of an AI powered VR system for sport psychological (cognitive) and biomechanical training. By exploiting neuroscientific knowledge in sensorimotor processing, Artificial Intelligence algorithms and VR avatar reconstruction, our lab along with the other consortium partners target the development of an adaptive, affordable, and flexible novel solution for goalkeeper training in VR.
The generic system architecture is depicted in the following diagram.
Using time sequenced data one can extract the motion components from goalkeeper’s motion and generate a VR avatar.
An initial view of the avatar compatibility with the real-world motion of the athlete is described in the next diagram.
The validation is done against ground truth data from a camera, whereas the data from the gloves are used to train the avatar kinematics and reconstruction. The gloves system is a lightweight embedded sensing system.
In the current study, we focus on extracting such goalkeeper analytics from kinematics using machine learning. We demonstrate that information from a single motion sensor can be successfully used for accurate and explainable goalkeeper kinematics assessment.
In order to exploit the richness and unique parameters of the goalkeeper’s motion, we employ a robust machine learning algorithm that is able to discriminate dives from other types of specific motions directly from raw sensory data. Each prediction is accompanied by an explanation of how each sensed motion component contributes to describing a specific goalkeeper’s action.