Computer game technologies are helping protect Europe’s endangered sports
Motion capture technologies usually employed by the film and computer games industries are being used to digitally archive some of Europe’s traditional, and in some cases endangered, sports.
Engineers from Ireland, Spain, UK, Switzerland and Greece will use motion capture technologies to create a digital archive of playing styles and techniques used in various regional games. This is the first time that the technology has been used to archive sporting techniques like this.
According to the organisation of academics and engineers, CLARITY, such a system is needed to preserve the sporting styles due to the threat from mainstream sports like soccer.
The project, called Re-Play, will first capture the playing styles of the Irish sports Gaelic Football and Hurling, and the Basque sport of Pelota.
The motion capture data will be not just be used to build an archive of playing styles but will be used to teach younger generations how to play the games.
According to CLARITY the Re-Play project will first record these sports due to their popularity and cultural importance
“Re-Play will initially focus on two families of traditional sports, Gaelic and Basque that are integral to the fabric of their communities and have remained popular in spite of the competition from other more widespread sports.”
In Ireland the project is being supported by the Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA), the national body that promotes traditional Irish sports. The GAA is Ireland’s largest sporting organisation, and has over 1 million members worldwide.
Páraic Duffy, Director General of the GAA, said, “Sport is the most universal and accessible of cultural pursuits. The GAA has played an important role in facilitating and shaping Ireland’s social and cultural heritage for generations. We are proud to be part of this important project and it will enable multiple modes of training, coaching and knowledge sharing that will contribute to the increased participation and preservation of our traditional sports into the future.”
Along with creating its own archive of sporting techniques CLARITY is working to “put these technologies within reach of every club in Ireland or the Basque regions.” Using emerging technologies and low-cost sensors the organisation hopes to allow players from across Ireland and the Basque regions of Spain and France to contribute their own motion data to the project.
Professor Noel O’Connor, Principal Investigator with CLARITY, said, “The continued development of sensor web technology allows us to undertake projects of this scale and diversity in a cost-effective way. Our goal at the end of this project is to create novel 3D software that can be used in every club and community centre across Ireland to allow the user to practice new and basic skills and to emulate their national or local heroes in the chosen sport. This project will also recover techniques of past players from archive footage allowing us to unearth forgotten skills and help us analyse the evolution of the sport.”
According to CLARITY efforts are also being made to apply this technology to other traditional sports outside of Europe;
“The project team will also be seeking out opportunities for the Re-Play project results to be applied to other traditional sports and games across the world that share the same cultural significance and are at risk from mainstream sports.”
Picture credit: Ray McManus