(Oct. 30, 2013) -- In football, kicking is a fundamental and vital part of the game. The few points a kicker scores can make a critical difference in the outcome of a game. To help improve a football kicker's performance, University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) mechanical and bioengineering professor Yusheng Feng and seven students have developed the prototype components for a football kicking simulator designed to be a real-time training tool.
Sponsored by the UTSA Center for Simulation, Visualization and Real-Time Prediction (SiViRT) with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Football Kicking Simulation and Human Performance Assessment is a virtual training system that uses real-time wireless feedback and computer sensing to measure football kicking mechanics data.
It gives a kicker the ability to practice either on or off the field and receive the same kind of attention to detail he would experience at a training camp. Moreover, the quantitative data collected from the football dynamics and kicker's body motion can not only be used to predict the accuracy of a kick, but also give feedback to maximize the kicking power while mitigating the risk of injury.
In particular, the prototype provides quantifiable measures to improve a football kicker's consistency and reliability by:
UTSA mechanical engineering undergraduate students Alyssa Schaefbauer, Cole Meyers, Jacob Kantor and Michael Lasch, kinesiology undergraduate student Ekow Acquaah, along with electrical and computer engineering graduate student Aaron Stout and computer science graduate student Ehren Biglari, have been developing and testing the virtual training system under the mentorship of Feng since February 2012.
"What sets our product apart from other kicking simulations is that we are using computer sensing and mathematical models to predict the football trajectory along with various training tools. It was designed specifically to be used for training rather than a form of entertainment, and it will be affordable," said Schaefbauer, the student team leader.
The group has been working with UTSA football place-kicker Sean Ianno and assistant coach Perry Eliano to test the simulator and make necessary adjustments for ideal training. In order to consider the human factors in training and coaching, they also are incorporating feedback from faculty members in the UTSA Department of Health and Kinesiology.
"The simulator is an awesome idea. Although it is not a finished product yet, it has the potential to be on the cutting edge of technology and quite possibly could revolutionize how kickers train," said Ianno.
"The kicking simulator is an incredible project and something I believe can be very beneficial not only for our kickers, but for kickers across the country," Eliano said. "I'm really humbled and thankful that the College of Engineering and their students who worked their tails off on this project chose us to be a part of it."
The research team has published two papers that were presented at the International Workshop on Computer Science in Sports and the Society for Modeling and Simulation International conference this summer.
"The football kicking simulator is a perfect example of how engineering and science can make improvements beyond the scientific arena, such as football, that are of interest to the greater community," said Feng. "It has been exciting to see these students develop into fine researchers who are determined to make a difference in society."
The research team has filed a patent application for the technology through the UTSA Office of Commercialization and Innovation and the team hopes to make the simulator commercially available for coaches and football teams to use as a training tool.
Established in August 2009 as a result of a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the UTSA Center for Simulation, Visualization and Real-Time Prediction is a computation and visualization center that integrates high-performance computing into its activities, which include imaging, visualization, modeling and simulation to help faculty and student researchers investigate structural reliability, particle flow, nanotechnology, biomechanics, computational neuroscience and cancer treatment simulation.
The SiViRT Center aims to shape UTSA's research environment by creating and supporting first-hand collaborative research and design experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students year-round. It is an interdisciplinary research center where students can apply their knowledge through teamwork.
For more information regarding the licensing of this or any UTSA technology, email the UTSA Office of Commercialization and Innovation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 210-458-6963.
The UTSA Interactive Technology Experience Center camps are for curious youth who are interested in STEM and related topics. This week, campers will study environmental science, robotics and computer science.
UTSA Main Campus
The Curtis Vaughan Observatory at UTSA will be having open stargazing every Wednesday night during the month. This event is free and open to the public.
Curtis Vaughan Observatory, UTSA Main Campus
In four sessions of this weeklong day camp for 9 to 13-year-olds, campers will participate in indoor and outdoor activities while exploring ancient technologies from around the world and the new technologies archaeologists are using to discover them.
UTSA Center for Archaeological Research, Main Campus
Roadrunner readers dive into exciting topics during this literary adventure summer camp geared toward 6-10-year-olds, occurring Monday through Thursday for two weeks.
Buena Vista Building 3.350, Downtown Campus
Experience a very different summer camp! The UTSA East Asia Institute is teaching kids Japanese through language, culture, art, crafts, music, cooking and more. For kids age 6-12. For more details, email email@example.com.
Main Building (MB 1.126), Main Campus
7 to 12 year-olds will explore Mayan Culture in a three-day sessions, concluding at the Witte museum, where campers will have the chance to see the new "Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed" exhibit.
UTSA Center for Archaeological Research, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.