Computer Avatars Train Pro Athletes At NYU’s Movement Lab

For years, motion capture technology has helped video games and movies create better similuations of professional sports. Now the process is being inverted, as real pro athletes turn to computer generated avatars to help them perfect their form and avoid injury. 

The New York Times highlights this trend, beginning with a quote from Chris Bregler, an associate professor of computer science and director of the Movement Lab at New York University. “It’s just a matter of time before it goes into not just sports medicine but making a team better,” Dr. Bregler said.

Researchers at the Movement Lab have worked on techniques to peer beneath the skin and calculate exactly how an athlete’s motion is translated to their skeletal system. This can be extremely useful in helping pitchers to improve their delivery in a way that reduces stress on their joints.

While there is a hint of science fiction in this new field, it’s really part and parcel of a larger trend among professional sports teams, especially baseball clubs, to rely on data in place of instinct and experience. Yankee fans take note: among the three teams to have begun using motion capture on a regular basis is none other than the Boston Red Sox.