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Section: New Results

VR and Sports

Participants : Richard Kulpa [contact] , Benoit Bideau, Sébastien Brault, Anne-Marie Burns.

In the past, we have worked on the interaction between two opponents in virtual environment. These duels were between a handball goalkeeper and a thrower; and between a rugby defender and an attacker performing deceptive movements. Even if these sports applications are different in terms of kinematic parameters, information picked-up and type of interaction, we have designed a unique framework to simulate such duels in a reality center and to analyze the gestures of real athletes immersed in this environment. This VR framework was validated by showing that behaviors in real and virtual environments were similar. These works have been extended by using perception-action coupling and perception-only studies to evaluate the anticipation of opponents. In order to evaluate the importance of perceived parameters, the ball and/or the character animation was successively hidden to determine their importance and the same kind of study was done on the graphical level of details.

This year, we have addressed the problem of the tennis serve. The first step is the PhD of Caroline Martin who will end next year. This work provides biomechanical analysis of the serve and the influence of the kinematical and dynamic parameters on performance. Thanks to an accepted project funded by the INSEP institute, we are importing this biomechanical model to virtual environment to make perceptual analysis. This work is based on the same methodology used for the detection of deceptive movements in rugby. The next step is to combine the use of cutoffs with biomechanical analysis to extract important kinematic information that could explain differences between experts and novices. This information is then correlated to kinematical parameters of this player. Concurrently, we are working on the creation of models of rugby defenders based on the results of the previous perceptual analyses

Finally, we have worked on the use of virtual environments to train athletes. The first step was to evaluate if a better score in the virtual environment implied only an improvement of the athlete in the virtual game or also a better performance back on the field. The PhD of Anne-Marie Burns has demonstrated that the improvement of training based on virtual environment was similar to training with a real teacher or based on videos. The use of VR for sports training, at least by imitation, is thus possible. Furthermore, we have explored the influence of the self-representation of the immersed learner by displaying his avatar as if he was in front of a virtual mirror. We made both kinematical and evocation analyses. The results do not show significant difference with or without the use of the mirror and it is confirmed by the subjective analysis that shows that the use of the virtual mirror by immersed athletes was limited. This work was partially funded by the Biofeedback project.