Computer Athlete Becoming Reality

Article. Computer Athlete Becoming Reality

Bionic Athlete

The Montreal Star

Published on Friday, July 13, 1979 by Kay Cassill

Wie montrcol Star FRIDAY,, JULY 13, 1979

]n1FtJIEr athlRta !IE]E11IIg r11

Editor’s note, In a small office in Am,ii c’, , 3lrsa. an Israeli irnmi grant. Dr Gideon Ariei, is engaged in work that may very well revolu !ionize the athletic world. Ariel’s business in the analysis of human mo tion� and if the results he has achieved with such sports figures as Mac Within and Terry Albritton are any indication. there’ll he some astonishing changes made in the developing and training of athletes all over the

world. Free-lance writer Kay Cassill talks to the miracle-maker of Ant

hersl and explains just how he turns out his “sir’rmllion-dollar-men “i

By KAY CASSILL

Because of Dr Gideon Ariei, athletes and athletics will never be the same.

Ariei, who is in the business of analyzing human motion, operates out of a small office on Route 9 in Anther. t. Mass. The sign on the door reads. “Computerized Bioniechanical Analysis, Inc.” Inside, the low hum of computers blends with discreet canned music. It could be almost any business office anywhere.

But Gideon Arrel and CI4A are anything but anonymous. Terry AIbritton, the world champion shotputter, knows about them. So does Mac Wilkins. the world discus champion. The Kansas City Rovals, the Dallas Cowboys and the I’ S. Olympic Committee know all about them too.

CBA, the world’s first reseach firm created specifically to analyze and evaluate the dynamics of human motion, was founded in 1971. One of the company’s earliest projects was in find practical applications of these dynamics for the treatment of muscular dystrophy patients. Since then. Ariel and his associates have worked on the development of sports equipment and industrial equipment and in the areas of consumer and industrial safety.

These projects led to the brain,torm that makes athletes the world over regard Ariei as an Israeli version of the Wizard of Or. Once he realized that engineering mechanics could be applied to the human body, he was off and running

The muscular and handsome scientist, who threw discus and shot for

Israel’s Olympic team in 19M’ got

started. he says, “because every coach I ever talked to would tell me something ddfereni There was an awful lot of guessing going on. It was

Arid talks a lot about witchcraft, but the images he calls to mind are not those of a horror filet. this is “Six-Mdhen-Dollar-Man” stuff.

“Until now.” he says, “mpst athletes relied on their coaches to tell them how to improve. The coaches had to rely on their eves to tell them what was going on. But the human eye cannot quantify movement. “

Ariel, now a U.S. citizen, has been in the States for 14 years, but his Israeli accent remains pronounced “The most important things in athletic performance – timing, relative speeds of dozens of limb and body segments, changes in the centres of gravity – must be weighed. measured and compared to each other to be of any use.” he continues. “Since you cannot see the forces with your eye. the best a coach can do is describe what a move is supposed to look like.”

After earning a PhD. from the University of Massachusetts in exer

cise science and a postdoctoral de

gree in computer science. Ariei turned to a third field “I didn’t

used as a tool to analyze the human body – that was a revelation. It fascinated me.”

Ariei, still athletic at 39, springs from his chair to answer the telephone Ile remains task-oriented. in spite of his vice presidency of CBA. Inc , his adjunct professorship in exercise science at the University of Massachusetts and his recent-appointment to the directorship of research in bioniechanics and computer science for the U S. Olympic Committee The plans for the 1980 and 1984 games are in the making.

Very well, then, Ariei helps make “bionic athletes.” flow’

Ile starts with slow-motion cinematography, recording the motions of the athlete during performance. These images ae then projected on a a two-foot-square wall screen. With the use of special tracing equipment fa Model GP-3 Graf-Pen Digitizeri he marks the joints and the lines between them in sequence, then feeds this Infornuetion into a high-speed computer. The computer digests it all and comes up with a series of stick-figure pictures A franii byframe. body-segment -by-bodysegment analysis allows hits to capture the stance of the athlete’s body at the very moment of throw, spring or impact

The computer’s readout of quanIltative.ly measured motion allows Ariei to calculate what is needed to perfect the athlete’s performance

“It doesn t matter whether you’re throwing a javelin or a basketball or an apple. whether you’re lifting a chair or hitting your girlfrend.- says Anti “Everything is according to Newtonian physics. We’v” knoyen that for a lnrg,tiine, if coure.. But until now too rosily things happened too fast during the athie!ii- performance When a javelin thrower is about to release

and velocity of his movement kept us from anderstii,iding — from seting — what was going on

His speech is peppered with engineering talk of forces, counterforces, points of stress and arcs of swinging motion, and with anatornicat terms like bone sinew and muscle. His precise but rapid enunciation accelerates when he talks about how his work with the Olympic Committee has increased the pace of his life. “It’s a once-in-alifetime chance- so I’m devoting the inalor portion of my time to the task “

Ariei might be negotiating a

sports equipment deal in Berlin on Monday, addressing a sports medicine convention in New Orleans on Thursday then flying out to California to check out the results on art Olympic athlete’s performance, with stopovers for lectures at various sports symposia in Flint, Mich., Chicago or South Bend

The equipment jam-packed into

CBA’s back-room laboratory could

he straight out of a “Six Million Dol

lar Man” episode. Everything want to find out which one generates photos, we analyzed his throw We Within a week, he broke the w seems to be wired to everything the most force in the direction of the told him his front leg was absorbing record by 15 feet. Very unusual e’ian Thorn rn -Ii-0, ,iuit,rme coin ii inapt hn ,-nmniaroend a,..- ii,, dA n� ,.u., ,h� ,e-,..,, -,id ,.,, 11h.–d ‘di ,d 6;,. ,.h

I Star FRIDAY,, JULY 13, 1979

irUFtJ1Er !!iEP1IE1E1 !IEcIErUir1& ririIiOj

fflee in An,.;,*s; , :;, I.,% Israeli im,ni.

teed in work that may very well revolu

‘s business in the analysis of human rns

chieved with such sports figures as Vac

any indication, there’ll he some astonish

ping and training of athletes all over the ‘assill talks to the rnirucle-maker of Am

urns out his “su-rm1linmdollar-meh “i

used as a tool to analyze the human body – that was a revelation. It fascinated me.”

Arid, still athletic at 39, sprints from his chair to answer the telephone. tie remains task-oriented, in spite of his vice presidency of CBA, Inc., his adjunct professorship in exercise science at the Universits’ of Massachusetts and his recent ap

� pointment to the directorship of re

� search in bioniechanics and computer science for the U.S . Olympic Committee. The plans for the 1980

� and 1984 games are in the making.

Very well, then. Arid helps make “bionic athletes.” How”

� He starts with slow-motion ctnematography, recording the motions

� of the athlete during performance These images ae then projected on a a two-foot-square wall screen, With the use of special tracing equipment is Model GP-3 Graf-Per, Digitizers he marks the joints and the lines between them in sequence, then feeds this information into a high-speed computer The computer digests it all and comes up with a series of

� stick-figure pictures A frame-byframe, body-segment-by-bodysegment analysis allows him to capture the stance of the athlete’s body

� at the very moment of throw, spring or impact

The computer’s readout of quam

� tilatively measured motion allows Ariel to calculate what is needed to perfect the athlete’s performance

“it doesn’t matter whether you’re throwing a javelin or a basketball or an apple. whether you’re lifting a chair or hitting your giritr,end,” says Arid “Everything :s according to Newtonian physics

� Weknown that for it 1oI.g 11111″ )! tours: Put until now ton many

� things happened too fast during lie’ athletic peo’forrrtance When i

javelin thrower is about to rules’-‘

and velocity of his movement kept us from understanding – from seerig — what was going on “

Ilis speech is peppered with en, gines-ring talk of forces, counterforcesI points of stress and arcs of swinging motion, and with anatomi

� cal terms like hone sinew and muscle His precise but rapid enun

� ciation accelerates when lie talks about how his work with the Ohm� pie Committee has increased the pace of his life. “It’s a once-in-alifetime chance, so I’m devoting the

� major portion of my time to the task.”

Ariel might he negotiating a sports equipment deal in Berlin on

� Monday. addressing a sports medi

� cine convention in New Orleans on Thursday then flying out to California to check out the results on an Olympic athlete’s performance, with stopovers for lectures at var

� ious sports symposia in Flint. Mich.. Chicago or South Bend.

The equipment jam-packed into CBA’s back-room laboratory could

� he straight out of a “Six Million Dollar Man” episode Ecervti.ir4 seems to be wired ti ecr’ryt!:mR else. There are dials. i laifores.

want to rind out whit h generates photos, we :ma:% 4cd his throw We Within a tceek, he broke the world Ariel is positively gleeful, as if

the most force in the dire’~:ion of the told him has tr,w! Ivg ,,; s absorbing record be 15 feet. Very unusual. He he’d done it himself.

swim It could tie camnla�;ded be , ne rov mho, , [,I ,, r5n rt�-,,,. -id ,.,, .11 �r t,; �ti;i .. tati., it

]n1piIEI dP1IEdE !IELuJrUir1& IE!Ii1I

a

(Editor’s note In a small office in Mess an Israeli irnmr grant, Dr Gideon ArietA is engaged in work that may very well revolu Lionize the athletic world. Ariei-s business in the analysis of human trio Lion, and If the results he has achieved with such sports figures as Mac Wilkins and Terry Albritton are any indication, there’ll be some astonish

my changes made in the developing and training of athletes oil over the

world. Free-lance writer Kay Casstil talks to the miracle-rnaker of Amherst and explains just how he turns out his -str.million dollar-men “;

By KAY CASSILL

Because of Lr Gideon Ariei. athletes and athletics will never be the same.

ArieiA who is in the business of analyzing human motion. operates out of a small office on Route 9 in Amherst. Mass. The sign on the door reads. “Computerized Btomechanical Analysis. Inc.” Inside, the low hum of computers blends with discreet canned music. It could be almost any business office anywhere.

But Gideon Ariei and CBA are anything but anonymous Terry AIbritton. the world champion shotputter, knows about them. So does Mac Wilkins. the world discus champion. The Kansas City Ho yals. the Dallas Cowboys and the tl.S. Olympic Committee know all about them too.

CBA, the world’s first reseach firm created specifically to analyze and evaluate the dynamics of human motion, was founded in 1971. One of the company’s earliest projects was to find practical applications of these dynamics for the treatment of muscular dystrophy patients. Since then. Ariei and his associates have worked on the development of sports equipment and industrial equipment and in the areas of consumer and industrial safety.

These projects led to the brainstorm that makes athletes the world over regard Ariel as an Israeli version of the Wizard of Oz Once he realized that engineering mechanics could be applied to the human body. tie was off and running

The muscular and handsome scientist. oho threw discus and shot for Israel’s Olympic Learn is 196). got started. he says, –because every coach I ever talked to would tell me something different. There was an ;iwful lot. of guessing going on. It was

used as a tool to analyze the human body – that was a revelation, It fascinated me.”

Ariei, still athletic at 39, springs. from his chair to answer the telephone. He remains task-oriented. in spite of his vice presidency of CBA, Inc , his adjunct professorship in exercise science at the University’ of Massachusetts and his recent appointment to the directorship of research in bioniechanics and computer science for the U S. Olympic Committee. The plans for the 1980 and 19&1 games are in the making.

Very well, then. Ariei helps make “bionic athletes.” How,

fie starts with slow-motion cirientatography, recording the motions of the athlete during performance. These images ac then projected on a a two-foot-square wall screen. With the use of special tracing equipment la Model GP-3 Graf-Pen Digitizers he marks the joints and the lines between them in sequence, then feeds this information into a high-speed computer The computer digests it all and comes up with a series of stick-figure pictures A frame-byframe. body-segment-by-bodysegment analysis allows him to capture the stance of the athlete’s body at the very moment of throw, spring or impact

The computer’s readout of quantitatively measured motion allows Ariei to calculate what is needed to perfect the athlete’s performance

“it doesn’t matter whether you’re throwing a javelin or a basketball or an apple, whether you’re tilting a chair or hitting your girlfriend,” says Ariei “t verything is according to Newtonian physic’s.

We kr,ewn that for a 1 :g tune. of

roar’,, Fiji until now too many clung, happened too fast during the athie�tic performance. When a javelin thrower is &bout to release

ti:n i.i..,.lie. th,. el,r.nr rnmninvVty

~, “Until now.” he says, “mpst athletes relied on their coaches to tell them how to improve. The coaches had to rely on their eyes to tell them what was going on. But the human eye cannot quantify movement, ..

Ariel. now a U.S. citizen. has been in the States for 14 years, but his Israeli accent remains propounced. “The most important things in athletic perfomiance – timing, relative speeds of dozens of limb and body segments, changes in the centres of gravity – must be weighed� measured and compared to each other to be of any use,” he continues. “Since you cannot see the forces with )our eye. the best a coach can do Is describe what a move is supposed to look like.”

After earning a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts in exercise science and a postdoctoral degree in computer science. Artel turned to a third field “I didn’t sec.” he explains. “why You couldn’t apply engineering mechanics to the human body, so I began to study all the engineering I could get.”

Then one of his professors suggested he put the computer to work analyzing the data he was accumulating. “I had used computers for statistical analysis, but that was all. To discover the computer could be

forces, points of stress and arcs of swinging motion, and with anatomical terms like bone sinew and muscle. His precise but rapid enunciation accelerates when he talks about how his work with the Olympic Committee has increased the pace of his life. “It’s a once-in-alifetime chance. so I’m devoting the major portion of my time to the

task-‘.

Ariel might be negotiating a sports equipment deal in Berlin on Monday, addressing a sports medicine convention In New Orleans on Thursday then flying out to California to check out the results on an Olympic athlete’s performance, with stopovers for lectures at various sports symposia in Flint. Mich., Chicago or South Bend.

The equipment jam-packed into CBA’s back-room laboratory could be straight out of a ‘*Six Million Dollar Man” episode. Everything seems to be wired to everything else. There are dials, platforms. Counters. pressure platforms, oscillating circuits and projectors. We’re at the computer screen watching a green stick figure crouch. spring, str-re-e-t-c-h.

“With swimmers you have two kinds of starts – the stretch start and the grab start,” Ariel says. “We dolt know yet which is best. We

want to find out which one generates the most force in the direction of the swim. It could be complicated because sometimes just the fact that you land in the water at a certain angle will give you more force. But we can figure it out – how the water and the angle of entry affects this.”

What did he do for discusthrower Mac Wilkins’

“He was photographed in action with high-speed cameras. From the

photos. we analyzed his throw We told him his front leg was absorbing energy that could go into the throw. We discovered a pattern in the best throws Instead of continuing the throw with a follow-through motion, we said he should decelerate the heavy parts of the body – the legs and the trunk – while he accelerated the lighter parts – the arm and the discus. If he did that. we said, he could be the world record-holder.

Within a week, he broke the world record by 15 feet Very unusual. He said we changed all of his philosophies about throwing.”

With stunt-putter Terry Albritton the problem was similar. “He was bending his knee but that was wrong. He needed that front leg to be like a solid block to throw from. We told him, he changed it and then put the shot farther than he ever had before.”

Aries is positively gleeful, as if he’d done it himself.

When it comes to analyzing motion, it appears there is little CBA, Inc. won’t tackle. The firm helped the KansasCity Chiefs study the performance of their linemen and the Kansas City Royals study the throwing techniques of their pitchers.

Sports equipment companies

See GOLF t,2

Golf, basketballs under

(ontinued from (‘1

—me to Aries for all sorts of ana ers

“‘fake golf (or instance Spald’ng wanted to know ni’,re about the characteristics of a golf club – how

it hehaved in use.” he says “Now.

.,d golfers do not swing in the same manner. but the principle of me’banics gtrenong the swing is true her all golfers Let’s say you want

most %eloi-ill upon impact You

ain create it by using your body segments correctly You cannot use the rm and then the trunk You always h.,vr to use the trunk first and then the arm Knowing how these should acceleratee how thev should com

sine is what counts We charted

these segments and came up with some answers for Spalding “

lie’s worked on developing a better running shoe for t’niroyal, on aruficial turf for another firm and, a,taun for Spalding, he came up with

hrgher-bouncing tennis hall Then there were the wobbly basketballs

“We were asked to design a bet. ier one The manufacturers were wondering if the geometric centre of the hall coincided wuh the centre ,f

the mass If not it would nes, ., looping effect

If you don’t distribute the mass corm,tt you have:, problem Say a few panels on the hall are heavier than the others Then the geometric centre will not be the same as the centre of the mass You get a wobbling of the !’all We took films -f people throwing a basketball 1′

didn t behave as it should have – .1

didn t follow a parabola When w,� discovered this we helped them ereate it ssmmctncal hill ‘

Ile puts his sneakered fool on a

platform – a $25.Slo force plate – in the middle of the room It transinuts readings of four kinds of pressure -vertical. forward sideways and twisting – to an oscilloscope chart mg the forces in footstrike in differ ent shoes at every point of foot placement Ile is ,,s serious as if he were reading an electrocardiogram.

” Knowing the angular displacement of a runner we can calculate the displacement of his ankle. hip and knee pants If we know the length of his bones and the speed of the film crimes we can calibrate how touch e!stince is cot ‘red per

secondd he s.tss totally absorbed in the possibilities

Because .d the precision and va

net% of e’HA’s machines and the

win’ Ihey art- linked together a”that was the hardest par his knowledge is also working toward the protent aai and treatment if injury in sports Recently he analyzed a film of the Dallas Cowboys in order to tell them if their injured players were returning to normal patterns

But its in the use of his smalll new, $80.0191 computer that Aries reaches furthest into ‘hinnie” ash

“tics liv potting a flexible disk that

holds nearly a million bits of infnrmation on an athlete in the computer Aries can wark out an individual program for him if it weren’t for the fact that film takes time to detelop. he could give that athlete instant playback so he could correct himself on the spot

We can optimize the human body.’ he says, not visibly disturbed by the suggestion that he’s getting into artificial intelligence ‘Ever body has some kind of capacity The

thing is an athlete doesn t ,sways ,s,. t -art-01% Let’s rnv he e,

study

leases the hammer at to degrees lower than he should. The hammer will land about t0 feet closer He had the capacity but didn’t know what angle was the most efficient for his system to release it

“We can calculate that But we try out the change on the computer first. before we ask the athlete to do it The athlete can watch himself dotug it in different ways right onahe computer screen We can get athletes to do their best. at their present physical state After that, we can create a training routine, tell them to lift weights. do certain exercises. change their muscles “

Are there no limits’

”Of course There is a limit to man But we use the computer for figuring all kinds of simulation techniques in order to predict the ultimate human performance in each event-‘

Among the more far out requests CBA. Inc. has received are some that have come from the government The National Bureau of Standards wanted to know what foreca were required to shake up a ketchup bottle.

1979 Kay Casstii