Katz' research aims to improve our understanding of the way we move.
Katy Anderson/the Gauntlet

Robots in disguise?

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Human machines! In an increasingly advanced world, high-level sport is becoming more and more dependant on technology.

The University of Calgary hosted the International Association on Computer Science in Sport conference June 3-6. The conference hosted guests from 23 different countries and included discussion on everything from biomechanics to how to integrate tech-ware such as blackberries into coaching in schools. The IACSS is a group of researchers, scientists and professors interested in using technology to teach people how to improve their sport performance.

The head of the faculty of kinesiology's sport technology research lab Larry Katz was a co-organizer of the conference, and emphasized the role technology plays in sport, adding that he hoped the conference would mean attendees would share ideas, resources and information, as well as bring awareness to Calgarians.

"Proper use of technology can make a difference between being first and being last," said Katz. "For example at the Olympics in Japan, the long track speed skaters used the clap skate, a brand new invention. All the winners wore the clap skate, so there was this instantaneous change. All of a sudden, everyone was wearing clap skates because if you weren't, you couldn't win."

Katz said currently most of the development work was being done for elite athletes, because people were willing to put resources into research for high-level performance.

"Technology isn't just for elite athletes," he said. "One of the challenges that were raised by a number of speakers in the conference was to ensure that the technology would be available at the grassroots, with kids in schools as well as for amateur athletes. We hope that all these resources will be made available in schools, so that kids can monitor their own performance and that way we can deal with issues like obesity and wellness."

Katz said with the technology becoming more accessible, technology and sport partnerships will be able to happen at a grassroots level. Lisa Wong, a former student of Katz' agreed.

"With technology getting cheaper and more teens starting to use technology, I think it has a growing place in sport," said Wong. "There are a lot of possibilities." She added that the technology is only as innovative as the coach.