Anglº - Sound design for posture awareness in sports explores how sound can inform recreational athletes in real time about their posture, tempo and training intensity while creating an enjoyable sports experience.

2014 Spring | UID | 2 weeks | together with Taís Mauk, Yedan Qian & Joakim Bergbom


 
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Problem

We strove to understand the relationship between performance and injuries within recreational sports. Be it running, cycling, weight lifting or stretching, the trickiest sports injuries to prevent are not the abrupt ones, but the ones resulting from long-term overuse due to bad technique and body control. In the core of all this is the lack of proper posture. Good upper body posture lets you use your core muscles at their maximum, relaxes your joints, so you can make the most of your workout experience.

When doing outdoor sports, you have no realtime visual feedback on your posture, such as your reflection in the mirror of the dance room. That's why explored the opportunities of sound in informing you about your body form during the workout. Today sound is used to boost the experience, or to motivate your for a better performance. You follow the bests and the mood of the music, but we aim at creating an experience that lets you create the music, so the sound follows your motion.

Concept

Anglº offers an audio experience for athletes with realtime posture awareness, subtle intensity training through music. It is designed to inform you about your body form in a subtle way with the harmony or tension of the simple melodic music.

For a better training intensity, the music's rhythm follows your natural tempo, and, based on your heart rate, it subtly speeds up to challenge you, or slows down to protect you from overexertion.

The integrated technology needs to solve stretch sensing across the shoulder blades (the most prominent anatomy reflecting good posture) and tilt sensing of the neck with triangulation. The accelerometers measure the tempo and intensity of movement. The sound output is provided by directional speakers on your shoulder, which make earphones obsolete.

Prototyping and testing

The following video collects the most important snippets of the design process, with focus on the first working mockup for proof of concept. This prototype was made with an Arduino with knitted stretch sensors across the shoulder blades. The interactive sound output was created with Processing.

This was we validated the initial ideas about physical comfort as well as the perception of sound qualities. We learned that for full wearable comfort a shirt with embedded technology is the best way to go. As for the interpretation of sound feedback, we found it very dependent on the context of use: for sports it was most accepted to listen to a rhythmic music with mild dissonance and tension.