VISIT TO JAPAN
by Prof. Bruno Grandi
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In response to an invitation from the Japanese Gymnastics Federation, this past autumn I attended the first 3D-shooting experiment of what is being called the “automatic gymnastics evaluation device,” developed by the Fujitsu Company.
The so-called “automatic gymnastics evaluation device” is an advanced computer programme still in its trial stages. The programme reproduces an athlete’s movements in the same dimension as usually seen by our own eyes.
I had already been shown this project in its initial form some time ago at the University of Milan. The programme makes it possible to see the movement of the human body in linear fashion, and promises in the future a more complex vision, closer to our reality.
It was an ambitious but outrageously expensive project at the time, and could not be used to use to evaluate gymnastics routines.
Since then television has begun using technological advances to shoot in 3D. Images can now be reproduced as seen we see them in our daily lives: with width, height and depth.
This is a device which could potentially be adapted to our sport for several purposes, in particular to evaluate the execution of the human body in space.
I firmly believe that Gymnastics will develop towards this scientific approach, which will lead to an improved study of body movements – which means mechanical movements -- aimed at adjusting technically imperfect moves and allowing for their spatial-temporal evaluation.
This will come to represent the system of technical evaluation related to “difficulty” and its identification, making it possible to accurately determine the real value of all routines, simple or complex.
I personally hope that Japanese researchers will have the will and the financial means to develop and complete this project for future implementation in our sport.
As for me, I am doubtful about the evaluation of Group routines in Rhythmic Gymnastics, especially the evaluation of difficulty performed by the five gymnasts, but I do believe that this issue can be solved by applying a “barcode” to register the data previously defined on the form. The only data evaluated will be what was actually performed, while movements not preregistered shall be excluded.
This is my personal belief, which I express with all due modesty, as I do not claim to provide recommendations to scientists in charge of developing and promoting this technology.
After finalisation, gymnastics will have its “photo-finish” -- i.e. a final solution on how to evaluate the technical and tangible content of a routine.
While in its first experimental stage, this device will not be a substitute for the D-panel judges, who will remain the reference. Nor will it be used to make final comparisons, should it be necessary to conduct verifications. That too will be left to the judges.
This is an ambitious but necessary and useful project which echoes two aspects of our sport: Justice towards the athletes and more credible results.