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The Lolo Jones Project, Combining Speed and Technology

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Lolo Jones hurdling

Lolo Jones clears the last hurdle in the Women's 60 meters hurdles during the Aviva Grand Prix on Feb. 21, 2009, in Birmingham, England.

Researchers at Louisiana State University and Red Bull are working on Project X, which involves using computer-vision technology and high-speed motion-capture cameras to analyze athletes' movements to improve their performance.

The researchers first analyzed Lolo Jones' hurdling technique to determine if the would-class athlete could improve her technique. The researchers set up a bank of motion-capture cameras in the lane next to Jones, as well as a specialized video camera that moved along a rail to keep up with her. The researchers also attached 39 markers on her body, which were were designed to capture the position of her joints and limbs.

The data was transmitted to a computer that reconstructed her body image in three dimensions, and the researchers were able to extrapolate her contact time with the ground, velocity, toe angles, and the acceleration of her center of mass. For a baseline comparison, the researchers used Jones' performance during her personal-best time of 12.43 seconds.

The researchers found that Jones' first eight steps leading up to the first hurdle could be improved by making a minor adjustment. They estimate that Jones can improve her time by 0.01 seconds per left step, which is an enormous amount in track and field.

From Associated Press
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