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Vision-Based Motion Capture Technology: A New Era for Ergonomics

Woman sits at a desk, requesting a demo of PoseChecker, EWI Works' vision-based motion capture technology

Vision-based motion capture technology has entered the realm of ergonomics and it’s making some serious waves. And, it couldn’t have happened without tech developers and ergonomists bringing their respective expertises together.

The result? By simply feeding a video of a worker in action into a web-based software, organizations can track and evaluate the ergonomic risks of their operations without the need for any sensors or equipment. This is how PoseChecker works, our proprietary AI-based computer vision algorithm software.

Vision-Based Motion Capture Technology: A New Era for Ergonomics

The value motion capture technology brings to ergonomics is impossible to overstate. A simple smartphone video is all it takes to get a real-time analysis and breakdown of the strain a work task has on someone’s body. In the end, this protects those on the frontline and equips management to quickly communicate issues and address risks.

More specifically, PoseChecker’s motion capture software uses computer vision algorithms to analyze uploaded images or video of a worker carrying out a task to calculate body joint angles, ultimately providing comprehensive feedback on body joint positions and where and when risk is highest.

Similar motion capture technology is used for making visual effects in games and animations. Ongoing advancements in that industry in turn created opportunities for researchers and innovators exploring such technologies for ergonomics and human factors applications.

Here’s where collaboration between ergonomists and tech developers is pivotal: an ergonomist’s innovative ideas are not going to be the same as those of developers, yet the latter are essential to bringing these ideas to fruition.

And one area where technology has substantial value for ergonomic risk analysis is the use of motion capture data for posture tracking, either with wearable sensors (e.g. Inertial Measurement Units (IMU)) or through vision-based approaches, such as with PoseChecker.

PoseChecker’s Motion Capture Technology

It’s an easy-to-use, cost-effective solution that also enables users to carry out validated risk assessments resulting in quantified risk scores. Through PoseChecker, organizations can mitigate musculoskeletal disorders across their organization using a validated, user-friendly platform that is easily adapted to any site.

Vision-based motion-capture technology has enhanced ergonomic assessments in every scenario and environment we’ve used it in so far, from manufacturing to housekeeping. Here are our main findings:

Remote assessments: the advent of COVID-19 health measures created a new demand for online services. PoseChecker greatly enhances remote ergonomic assessments. Anyone on-site (or at home!) can take a video of themselves or someone else working; it’s then just a quick upload so the software can perform its analysis and the ergonomist can put together their feedback.

vision-based motion capture technology provides real-time analysis of man working

Reliable, unbiased data: machines and algorithms can provide more accurate and less subjective data than human beings.

Decision-making: instead of the more traditional approach of reporting some scores to management that they can’t really make sense of, we found that visualizing the outputs (e.g. superimposing colour-coded body joints on top of the video) makes it much easier for managers to see the risks and convince them of the need for change. The better decision makers can understand risks, the more engaged and willing to make changes they are.

Training and behaviour change: motion-capture technology is highly effective in training workers and supervisors. By visualizing the problem, you make it easier for everyone to visualize the solution as well and understand why a change is needed.

Comparison: Technologies like PoseChecker offer a new level of comparison between different methods of carrying out the same task by contrasting the ergonomic risks. Crucially, this opens the door for easily assessing the effectiveness of interventions.

The Role of Ergonomists with Motion Capture Technology

Still, motion capture risk analysis works best when complemented by an ergonomist. Sure, the technology is amazing for data collection, but an ergonomist still needs to apply their expertise to find the correct intervention.

In other words, the machine helps you identify what needs to be fixed. The ergonomist tells you how to fix it.

If you are a risk, EHS, or safety manager who struggles to demonstrate employee risk to leadership, PoseChecker is the tech for you. If you are an ergonomist responsible for corporate assessments and risk mitigation, this tool can assist you in diagnosing employee risk.

The applicability of motion capture technology to ergonomics has no bounds, and is already demonstrating success in a range of sectors, including industrial manufacturing, construction, utilities, continuing care, operating rooms, and healthcare among many more.

To get started with PoseChecker or to book your free demo, contact us today!

The platform’s unique features include:

  • 100 video uploads (no more than 2 min/video)
  • Dedicated portal
  • Automated review of postural exposures for each video
  • Access to integrated REBA tool
  • Face blur and background features
  • 1-hour training on PoseChecker features
  • Email customer support within 24 hours of request Monday thru Friday
  • Ongoing access to upcoming new features

EWI Works offers many services that can improve your quality of life. We have developed several cost-effective remote services to help you transition to remote work. Find out more about our Online Training, Services, and Resources. 

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