PhD update – motion capture in gaming and biomechanics

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My first day as a research assistant in Dr. Kim’s Applied Dynamics and Optimization Lab at NYU-Poly was Monday, August 2nd. A 6-camera Vicon motion analysis system was recently installed in the lab, so I got to learn how to use it during the first week. We had a few issues with the lab setup, so I’ve been working on ways to improve it. For example – because the cameras are trained to see bright reflections, anything shiny in the room messes up the data. The floor of the lab itself is shiny, so for the first experiment I was a part of we had to tape paper towels to the floor! Eventually we’ll be getting a force plate to install in a raised floor, but for now we have to find a temporary fix. So, I looked around for other motion analysis labs in the NYC area to get their opinions…

I contacted the NYU Movement Lab I had heard about through Tom Igoe at ITP and was lucky enough to attend one of their game tests this past Wednesday night.

You can see one of the visualizations from the session here. They’re basically working on ways to use motion capture technology with patterns of reflective dots on beach balls to engage large groups of people in collaborative games. They were set up in an auditorium with about 20 cameras pointing into the space, tracking the balls we threw around. We tested a few different games and 3D drawing programs, and had to work together to hit imaginary targets on the ceiling, play a huge game of Simon, and draw in 3D. They’ll be taking this setup to Ars Electronica in a few weeks.

Then on Friday morning I got a chance to visit a lab I’ve had my eye on for a while now – the Leon Root, MD Motion Analysis Laboratory at the Hospital for Special Surgery here in NYC.


The director, Dr. Hillstrom, was kind enough to show me around and talk about all the work they do there. One of their research engineers there is also a PhD student at NYU – in the Ergonomics & Biomechanics program – so I’m looking forward to meeting up again and talking about how our labs might collaborate on some projects. It also turns out that a former classmate of mine at the University of Delaware has been a post doc there for a while now – small world! I’m looking forward to seeing their posters and presentations at the American Society of Biomechanics conference next week.

So other than visiting labs, I’ve been reading up on robotics and gait analysis to try to prepare for some of the work I’ll be doing. We have a lot of research topics to explore so I’m working on clarifying some of that. I’m funded for the first year of my PhD through the lab, but after that we have to work on getting funding from research grants and hopefully through a fellowship or two. I’ll be applying for a few fellowships and scholarships over the next few months, including the Guggenheim Fellowship (a 1 year program) and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (a 3-year program). Fingers crossed!


One comment

  1. Hi All.
    My self Mahesh Ambre from India. Sir i want to know that is their any course for Phd in Motioncapture.
    I am BSc graduate, 3D Animation, Motion Capture from India. After this is it possible for me to do Phd in Motion capture.
    For doing Biomechanics what qualifications is required.
    I have given my mocap work youtube link.

    Thanks, & regards,

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