Gymnasts accomplish amazing feats of strength and flexibility with pinpoint accuracy. But judges who assess those performances seem to have a lot of wiggle room. As a result, controversies and discrepancies can arise.
In 2004, for example, bronze medalist Yang Tae-Young of South Korea claimed a judging error unfairly docked him .1 of point on his parallel bars routine. The International Gymnastics Federation agreed with Yang and suspended the judges who made the error.
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Now, the Japan Gymnastics Association is partnering with Fujitsu to introduce lasers into the sport and improve scoring, reports Vocativ.
The technology could reduce the burden on judges and also speed up the time it takes to produce a score.
The researchers propose using 3-D laser sensors to discern an athlete's joint position to determine a score.
Until now, using lasers - or even motion capture technology - has been a huge challenge. With motion capture, athletes would be required to wear numerous markers that could be tracked by special cameras and software.
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With lasers, it's been difficult to calibrate the viewing angle with distance or movement.
But Fujitsu is working on a systems that will use microscopic mirrors to direct lasers automatically and adjust the viewing angle as the person moves around.
They've also developed a high-speed joint position recognition technology that can be captured in three dimensions.
The collaborative labs hope to have the laser system in place in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games.