Industry Collaborations

The laboratory regularly cooperates with industry partners who seek expertise in human ergonomics, movement physiology, and biomechanics. We have conducted the human testing portions of federally funded and industry-sponsored studies that developed new health and safety products, new tools to record human motion, or new product designs for the sport industry. See a few examples below:

Vibration behavior of novel tennis racquet design and its effect on muscle fatigue

Global sporting goods manufacturer Wilson Sporting Goods Company contracted the School of Kinesiology’s Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory to field-test  a new line of high-technology performance tennis rackets. The study measured the mechanical vibration behavior of the racquet and its transfer to the player’s hand and arm while  assessing electrophysiological markers of muscle fatigue. The participants were expert players recruited from the U of M varsity tennis men’s and women’s teams, and testing took place at the U of M Tennis Center.

A new latch system to secure child car seats

In-lab human testing

In this project we performed lab and field testing of a new fastensing mechanism to secure child car seat to the rear passenger seat of a car. A common concern with traditional car seat designs has been that the fastening mechanism is very cumbersome and difficult to perform for the installer. In addition, if the installation was not performed properly the child seat would not be tightly secured to the passenger seat, potentially compromising the safety of the child.

In the laboratory we obtained measures of a participants arm pulling strength, and their neck and trunk flexibility, because these biomechnical variables are good determinants of an adult’s ability to install a child car seat.

Preparing for field testing

Using electrogoniometers we measured hip and neck angles during the actual child seat installation. In addition, we recorded muscle activity of lower back muscles to obtain a measure of potential low back muscle strain. Here an experimenter attaches the goniometers and a telemetric EMG unit to a participant.

Field testing

Participants performed several trials installing a traditional car seat and the new design. Next to the kinematic and electrophysiological data all trials were recorded by digital video.

Foot pressure and leg muscle innervation patterns of novel elliptical trainer prototype

In this project we tested a prototype of a new elliptical trainer. The company sought to know how the loading varied from overground and treadmill running, and if the underlying leg muscle innervation pattern were similar to overground running, i.e. that the new design mimicked natural running in terms of the muscle activation without the loading of the body.