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Camosun project helps Olympians

May 31 2012
Tim Walzak, B.C. regional chair of sport technology at Camosun, poses with a rowing seat fitted with sensors at the Pacific Institute of Sport. Researchers are using wireless sensors to gather information on everything from an athlete's speed and heart rate to gait, body temperature, blood pressure and balance. 

Tim Walzak, B.C. regional chair of sport technology at Camosun, poses with a rowing seat fitted with sensors at the Pacific Institute of Sport. Researchers are using wireless sensors to gather information on everything from an athlete's speed and heart rate to gait, body temperature, blood pressure and balance.

Photograph by: Adrian Lam , timescolonist.com (May 2012)

A top-secret research project at Camosun College could have a big impact on how Canada's Olympic athletes perform in London this summer.

Tim Walzak, B.C. regional chairman of sport technology at Camosun, said researchers are building wireless sensors that gather information on everything from an athlete's speed and heart rate to gait, body temperature, blood pressure and balance.

In the past, a coach and athlete only knew the time it took to complete a race; they had no idea what happened between the start and finish lines, he said.

"We're now inundating them with data that they've never seen," he said.

Having collected the data, researchers work with athletes and coaches to interpret and analyze the information so they can use it to improve performance.

"The feedback we're getting is absolutely dynamic," he said. "We think we're going to have a big impact in a couple of sports."

The project got an added boost last week when the Canada Foundation for Innovation awarded Camosun a $730,000 grant.

The money, matched by the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund, will be used to buy equipment for the project at Camosun's Sport Innovation Centre in the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.

Although focused on high-performance athletes at the moment, the research has potential to benefit others by improving physiotherapy, occupational therapy, emergency response and recreation, Walzak said.

"We can envision a time when physical activity is positively reinforced, health care is continually monitored and associated costs reduced, and the elderly can be immediately and effectively monitored and cared for," he said in a statement.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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