Japan Gymnastics Association, Fujitsu Agree To Jointly Research Scoring Support Technology For Competitions

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TOKYO, May 18 – The Japan Gymnastics Association, Fujitsu Limited, and Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. today announced an agreement to conduct joint research on scoring support technology for gymnastics competitions. This research will combine Fujitsu Laboratories’ 3D laser sensors and 3D data processing technology–to discern athlete’s joint position and technique–with the Japan Gymnastics Association’s expertise in recognizing proper gymnastics techniques. 

Background and Objectives

In gymnastics, a sport that awards points in a judging system, considerable efforts and reforms have been made over many years to ensure consistently fair and accurate scoring. However, with the extraordinarily rapid advance of gymnastic techniques, such as with the number of twists, there are times when it is difficult to accurately judge and score a performance with the naked eye.

As a result, judges face an escalating burden of making accurate split-second scoring decisions. In addition to judgements made through visual observation, the use of ICT to capture a gymnast’s movements, which are then analyzed as numerical data, could work to support more accurate scoring. 

At present, motion capture technology is widely used to analyze human movements, but this technology is not practical in actual competitions as it requires the placement of multiple markers, thereby burdening the gymnast. Now, by capturing human movements in three dimensions with the high precision offered by 3D laser sensors, and using the 3D data this generates to recognize an athlete’s joint position and the techniques performed, the researchers seek to derive the numerical data needed to judge competitions, and create technology that supports judges’ scoring decisions. 

Scoring Support Technology 

Description of the Joint Research

The companies will consolidate their respective knowledge and work to validate technologies that support judges in their scoring. Fujitsu Laboratories will use its proprietary 3D laser sensor and 3D data processing technology to obtain gymnastics data from athletes registered with the Japan Gymnastics Association, which in turn provides expertise in gymnastics technique recognition and scoring knowledge, as well as a field-trial environment.

Features of Fujitsu Laboratories’ Technology

With conventional 3D laser sensors, it is not possible to control the viewing angle in accordance with distance or movements, and using them at long distances results in lower resolution. These factors make it difficult to apply them to sports. Using sophisticated MEMS control technology that automatically adjusts the viewing angle in accordance with the location of a person, Fujitsu Laboratories has now developed technology that maintains good resolution even from a distant location. 

Moreover, for the joint position recognition technology, together with a conventional approach of a modeling method for high-speed recognition of posture, Fujitsu Laboratories is also using a new inferring method of applying the optimal form of a joint position to the 3D data.

This combination of technologies helped the company succeed in developing high-speed, highly accurate recognition technology. These technologies will be further refined to enable them to work with the movements of gymnastics techniques and thereby create technology to help with scoring. 

Future Plans

When this technology is developed, in addition to reducing the burden on judges in the face of increasingly complex and sophisticated gymnastics techniques, it is also expected to reduce the time required for scoring in competitions, benefitting both athletes and spectators. This technology, when applied for viewing and training, is anticipated to be useful beyond gymnastics and other judging system-based competitions.

Endorsement

Comment from Daichi Suzuki, First Commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency

The joint effort by the Japan Gymnastics Association, Fujitsu, and Fujitsu Laboratories to develop new scoring support technology is a wonderful initiative. I would like to see the deployment of Japan’s technological capabilities lead to improvements in the performances of gymnasts and the quality of judges, raising the level of gymnastics techniques and the attractiveness of gymnastics as we look toward the Tokyo 2020. I am also hopeful that collaboration between the sports world and corporations, such as in bringing together sports and ICT, will bring greater dynamism to the sports industry. 

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