What is Digital Athlete and How Will It Revolutionize the Sports World

The movie ‘Her’ starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson offered moviegoers a different take on loneliness. A middle-aged man found comfort in the company of a digital lady made out of artificial intelligence.

Virtual assistant running via artificial intelligence is not a new concept. It is present in customer care, groceries, the best example could be Siri or Alexa.

Sports is the next industry to embrace artificial intelligence and virtual assistance as Griffith University in Australia created a prototype of life-like Digital Athlete’ expected to become the future of sports technology.

The project, supported by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS), uses big-budget film animation to copy the movements of their models. The Digital Athlete is the Digital twin of an athlete hoping to improve his or her career in sports.

A Digital Athlete is like a partner for coaches and athletes to design highly personalized training, assess body for injury prevention, and customize rehabilitation based on diagnostic reading of their bodies.

Griffith University biomechanical engineer Professor David Lloyd explained that the Digital Athlete uses the latest technologies in filming to capture the image of an athlete down to the tissues and heartbeat.

“The animated body model is extremely lifelike thanks to utilizing the latest in film scanning technology, but it is the level of accurate detail inside the body that makes the Digital Athlete so unique,” Professor Lloyd said in the university’s website.

“We’ve built the proof-of-principle Digital Athlete utilizing our platform technology – Personalized Digital Human –using 3D body scans, MRI, and motion capture data so we have a really detailed representation of the body shape, bones, joints, muscles, and other soft tissues in the daily performance environment.”

Gold Coast film industry Duncan Jones of Myriad Studios called the project a fantastic collaboration.

“It’s very complimentary to the work we do, but also different and very exciting,” Duncan Jones says.

“The art of filmmaking is make-believe – nothing is ever real – but the Digital Athlete is blending our technologies with biomechanical science to create something that is entirely realistic.

Griffith Director of Sports Engagement and former Olympic rowing gold medallist Duncan Free for his part sees Digital Athlete as an effective coaching tool.

“Coaches have a great eye for technique, but this can really take the guesswork out of designing training programs and be hugely valuable in helping to prevent injury and in rehabilitating athletes,” Duncan Free said as quoted by Gold Coast.

Hollywood and sports working together? Athletes have been dabbling in entertainment before so this is not a strange idea.