Friday, January 3, 2014

New OMEGA Timing Technology for Bobsled Racing

This in from OMEGA -


Courtesy of OMEGA
A world premiere for OMEGA is the use of new technology in bobsleigh races that makes important in-run data available instantly to the competitors, their teams and TV viewers around the world. The information is gathered by the OMEGA Measurement Unit mounted on each bobsleigh.

This innovative new device consists of a speed sensor, a 3D acceleration sensor and a 3D gyro-sensor, all of which acquire data in real time.

The speed sensor records the bobsleigh’s speed throughout the entire run. The 3-axis gyro-sensor continuously determines the angular velocity of the bobsleigh. Angular velocity is the speed of the bobsleigh as it rotates around the track and is measured as the rate of change of the angle of the bobsleigh subtended at that point on the track by the path of the bobsleigh. The 3-axis acceleration sensor allows continuous determination of the forces acting on the driver during the run, with each axis measuring a different acceleration parameter. 

Courtesy of OMEGA

The OMEGA Measurement Unit benefits bobsleigh racers and their teams because it gives them immediate access to data, which, in turn, allows them to adapt and improve their training programs.

The development of the OMEGA Measurement Unit 

The development of the OMEGA Measurement Unit started in October 2011, providing some interesting challenges. On one hand, data captured would have to be comprehensive enough to serve as a basis for in-depth post-race analyses by coaches and technicians. On the other, a nearly non delayed wireless transmission combined with fast and simple processing was considered essential due to the demands of real-time visualization of the live data.

Its development was motivated by the introduction of the OMEGA Monobob Series and its association with the small, sleek, aerodynamic one-person bobsleighs made it possible to advance the technology very quickly.

A relatively simple early prototype of the unit was assembled. Intending to keep things basic at this stage, the designers did not include certain features, such as the wireless transmission function, that would later be crucial. Accordingly, sensor data had to be recorded directly on a mini-PC mounted beside the prototype circuit inside the bobsled chassis. Obviously, the system at this point was large and heavy, but the three basic sensor components – the radar, gyro and accelerometer – performed well.

In late 2011, the design team alternated outdoor tests and indoor evaluations at short intervals and early in the following year, it was already possible to present the first video clip, showing live camera footage combined with a graphics insert that was after the run from synchronized sensor data. 

Much of 2012 was dedicated to refining the wireless transmission part of the project and after months of evaluation and a redesign of the unit, a prototype was ready for extensive on site testing in the 2012/2013 season. It was clear that almost every objective had been achieved, including live data transmission and the insertion of live data from multiple bobsleds into television graphics.

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