Biomechanical Applications in Cyberspace

Online.Biomechanical Applications in Cyberspace

Published on Sunday, September 8, 1996 by Gideon Ariel

Biomechanical Applications in Cyberspace

by Gideon B. Ariel and Ann Penny
University of California, Irvine


Cyberspace is a term created by William Gibson in his novel, Neuromancer, to represent a universe sustained by a vast network of computers and telecommunications lines. Gibson’s fantasy universe became a reality with the Internet which provides access to a worldwide collection of information resources and services is a window on the ever-expanding world of online information. The new communication links afforded by rapid satellite/computer exchanges will enable the field of Biomechanics to advance into a new age of technology, resources, research, data base development, as well as interaction among Scientists.

Utilizing the tools available in Cyberspace, the Biomechanist can retrieve and display data as well as documents from virtually anywhere on the planet. Studies can be conducted at multiple locations and data rapidly exchanged among these sites. Application of multiple media sources is possible within Cyberspace and is referred to as hypermedia; Thus, with the Internet’s hypermedia-based interface, documents can include color images, text, sounds, and animation. As a hypermedia technology designed for searching and retrieving, Internet provides a unified interface to the diverse protocols, data formats, and information archives appropriate for biomechanical endeavor. Furthermore, most of the documents are hypertext; which is a paper containing links to other text, media, and/or information. In other words, electronic links known as Hyperlinks – can provide specified information within a document by embedding full color images, sounds, graphs, bibliographies, supplementary resources, data bases, etc. located within that text or at some distant site. This interface allows information located around the world to be interconnected in an environment that permits users to travel through the information super-highway merely by clicking on hyperlinks; Similarly, complex biomechanical research segments at different research sites can be tethered; through these hyperlink; phase. Biomechanical research and subsequent reports become virtually three-dimensional with this multiple level access.


The present study was designed to test the efficacy of acquiring data at a host; site with simultaneous online interaction with a second location. The following Internet tools were selected as appropriate for the study:

  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol) – to transfer large video and document files from site to site.
  • Gopher – To retrieve and post research finding and progress documents
  • (World Wide Web) – To hyperlink documents with video images and sound.
  • HTML (Hyper Text Mark-up Language) – To create the Hyper-link documents.

The study’s purpose was to test the capabilities of the Internet in conducting a Biomechanical study. The subjects performed an arm flexion-extension exercise in two minute bouts on a specialized device which controlled and recorded the force for each repetition. At the completion of each bout, the Subjects performed a five second isometric contraction during which both the force exerted and the EMG signals from the biceps and triceps brachii were recorded. A simple movement task, pointing to a target, was performed and captured on video by two cameras. There was a one minute rest following the isometric test and then the next flexion-extension exercise bout was begun. Modem connections for the computers which controlled and recorded data for the exercise, EMG, and the isometric contraction were established prior to the initiation of each subject’s first bout of exercise. Baseline and test measurements were secured for the maximum voluntary isometric contraction and EMG signals and immediately transmitted via Internet to the remote site for quantification. Transmission of the video from each camera view followed for subsequent quantification. The goal was for the scientist at the remote site to receive and quantify the force and EMG data using the fatigue formula presented by Basmajian and De Luca (1) for determining the point of fatigue. Following this fatigue-induced failure point determination, decisions regarding the continuation or cessation of exercise could be made.

The study was conducted between two locations within the United States. A computerized exercise device was employed for the arm flexion-extension task with the subject’s arm stabilized in an effort to restrict extraneous bodily movements. The exercise conformed to a predetermined acceleration pattern throughout the entire exercise. Software regulated the iso-acceleration pattern regardless of the level of fatigue in a manner which was transparent to the exercising subject. The investigator was situated in an appropriate position to monitor the subject’s performance and to regulate the timing sequence EMG data was collected simultaneously with force data immediately before and at the end of each exercise bout.

Exercise data, isometric force values, and the EMG signals were transferred from the Host site to the recipient site immediately following the data recordings EMG and force quantifications were transferred from the recipient site back to the Host as soon as the results had been calculated.

Figures 1 and 2 illustrate one of the video picture transmitted and the associated digitized data, respectively. Figure 3 illustrates an individual EMG signal.

Figure 1 -Transmitted Video Picture
Figure 2 – Digitized Data
Figure 3 – EMG data – raw signal in the top curve, processed in remaining three curves.


Following repeated bouts of fatiguing exercise, the Subject results demonstrated remarkable similarity for the time required to reach the failure point. This was an unexpected finding despite the effort to find subjects who represented a homogeneous population, in this case, volunteer weight xxx. Following the data collection and Internet calculations between sites, subsequent kinematics, force, EMG, and fatigue level determinations were calculated and reported in documents at each site. Hyperlinks were embedded in the graphic documents to link the video images with the associated kinematics parameters such as position, velocity and acceleration. In addition, the EMG data was hyperlinked with the kinematic parameters from the video analysis and kinetic data from the computerized exercise device.


Although the Internet electronic linking capabilities allow more elaborate and exotic research protocol, the efficacy of a simple two site participation with nearly real time data transference and quantification was deemed sufficient for this study. This study successfully demonstrated that biomechanical research in the 21st century can utilize the power of the Internet when conducting and sharing research between sites world wide.


1. Basmajian, John V. and De Luca, Carlo J. Muscles Alive. 5th Edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1985.

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