Chelsea Flower Show to host biomechanic garden fitness project

Biomechanics scientists from Coventry University are set to give guests at the Chelsea Flower Show a workout next month with a showcase of a project of how gardening can be healthy.

The University will be exhibiting a unique motion capture technology which – when users wear a Lycra suit fitted with sensors – shows the body’s movements live as an on-screen avatar, which is then turned into a skeletal animation complete with muscles, joints, and the forces going through them.


Coventry’s high-tech kit – which is similar to gadgetry used in Hollywood to create characters like Gollum – is being used as part of a collaboration with the RHS to research which tools and methods are most effective in helping gardeners, particularly the mature gardener, to improve their health.


The ‘Healthy gardens, healthy gardeners’ initiative will be exhibited from 24-28 May) – in the Discovery Zone, which focuses on education and the science behind gardening.


Coventry’s biomechanics specialists have also worked with the England cricket team, car designers, medics and professional dance troupes, using the technology to help them study their technique and boost fitness.


Dr James Shippen, biomechanics expert from Coventry University’s Centre for Mobility and Transport, said: "We’re enormously excited to be working with the RHS to bring our motion capture technology to the Chelsea Flower Show. Nothing like this has ever been showcased at the event, so I’m confident it will be quite enlightening for a lot of gardeners who might not realise just how healthy gardening can be.


"What we’re able to do with our technology is get under the skin, quite literally, of anyone who wears the motion suit, to show precisely how muscles and joints are being worked during different activities. During the show we’ll be revealing the science behind those simple gardening tasks you take for granted, and having a bit of fun at the same time. After all, it’s not often you get to see a live animation of yourself on screen!


"Of course horticulture is not the only application for this technology. Our motion capture kit has seen action of all sorts in recent years, from sports-related activities and dance studies, to projects which help the rehabilitation of paraplegic patients. It’s a pleasure to be extending our work still further to collaborate with the RHS on this unique piece of research."

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