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Accueil Activities Seminar Series David Pearsall: Understanding human/environment/tool interactions: Case studies from sport and examples of industrial-university collaboration

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David Pearsall: Understanding human/environment/tool interactions: Case studies from sport and examples of industrial-university collaboration

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Quoi ?
  • Seminar
Quand ? 25/03/2013
du 16:00 au 17:30
Où ? A-832, New Music Building, 527 Sherbrooke Street West.
Ajouter un événement au calendrier vCal


Innovations in sport and recreational products are influenced in large part by technical advances including original designs, the incorporation of new synthetic polymer materials or metal alloys, and / or the utilization of novel manufacturing and construction processes (May, 2000). Any or all of these changes to the product may have a profound effect on performance, safety and economic viability (Minetti, 2004; Verslius, 2005). Biomechanics can play an important function in new product development; however, its influence on the end product is often uncertain (Shorten, 2005). The purpose of this presentation is to provide examples of studies where biomechanical concepts can lead to innovations in product development, drawing from personal experience in ice hockey skate equipment research.  

Controlled human based studies of working designs may provide validation (or rejection) of theory concepts. An excellent example is seen in the concept-to-product development of the speed “klap” skate (de Koning et al, 1991; van Ingen Schenau et al, 1996).  From an inherited body of biomechanics knowledge (walking, running and vertical jump), these researchers identified limitations to lower limb propulsion imposed by the structural design of conventional fixed blade skates. Several concept designs were tested, specifically focused at bypassing the former skate’s ergonomic constraints. Compelling performance enhancement was demonstrated as world time records were shattered by athletes wearing the klap skate. 

Inspired by their work, we have adopted a similar approach to link footwear skate properties to human performance. In the context of ice hockey, skating involves varied direction and speed transitions (unlike speed skating that involves essentially only forward and left turns). Thus, the general question directing our research has been ”how can skate design optimize “fit” for comfort, effective force transmission and skate control?”  Having identified the mechanical outcomes desired, materials of varied stiffness and elastic properties, for example, can be assessed for different parts of the skate boot in terms of the above criteria.  During my presentation I will provide several examples of recent studies addressing the above goal, as well as identify strategies to effectively communicate relevant scientific findings to both the collaborating industry partners (designers, manufacturing, marketing, intellectual property) and end users (Shorten, 2005). 

Making the leap from research in the sports to music domains is not that difficult: many of same technique and analytical approaches can be adopted. The fundamental difference are only in the specific tasks, surroundings and tools (instruments) being used and the questions posed by the researchers.  


de Koning et al. (1991) J Biomech, 24(2), 137.

May M (2000) Scientific Amer 74-79.

Minetti AE (2004) J Exp Biology 207: 1265-1272

Shorten, M (2005) Symp of the Functional Footwear Group, Cleveland, Ohio. 

van Ingen Schenau et al. (1996) Med Sci Sports Exe, 28(4): 531.

Versluis C (2005) Technovation 25:1183-1192  



I have been actively involved in Biomechanics / Human Factors research studying:

  1. 1. human locomotion (e.g. walking, running, skating) to better understand the physics involved in relation to performance measures, using 3D body measures to elucidate limb and joint coordination patterns; and,
  2. 2. interface contact dynamics (force, pressure, accelerations) between the body and the environment, garment or tools.

To study the above topics has required imagination in adapting sensor technologies and software algorithms to obtain accurate and meaningful information. Examples of past and recent studies will be presented where in novel means of motion capture have been developed for human movement analysis as well as creative applications of sensors to map body-tool interaction forces.  Many of these same technologies and analytical techniques may well be adaptable to the domain of music. 


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