The pool image from BMW's Motion Capture software. Photo courtesy of BMW.

BMW supporting US Olympic Swim Team with technology

BMW sensors and software developed for automotive functions are now helping the US Olympic Swim Team by analyzing their startup and turning underwater, a critical aspect of the competition measured in hundredths of a second.

BMW, as the Official Mobility Partner of the United States Olympic Committee, just announced the delivery of the second vehicle-to-athlete technology transfer project, a unique motion tracking system that can help refine a swimmer’s form and technique. The system, provided by BMW to USA Swimming (USAS), utilizes underwater cameras along with BMW automotive technology to provide data to coaches to help swimmers improve starts and turns.

The technology was researched and developed at the BMW Group Technology Office in Mountain View, CA to analyze a swimmer’s dolphin kick allowed within the 15 meters of the pools edge and provide exacting performance data to participants and their mentors. Similar to the body capture technique used in film but more precisely focused, the software follows six body points of swimmers – wrists, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and toes – allowing coaches to analyze the coordinated actions of different parts of the body, and thus modify the way they work together to increase speed and efficiency.

The system represents a quantum leap over the current method of counting strokes and kicks and making assumptions from underwater video footage. By comparing measurements to performance over time, coaches will be able to use BMW’s motion tracking tool to fine tune incremental technique tweaks that will work for each swimmer’s best body characteristics and performance.

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