Every four years, we watch. We marvel at badminton and wonder about the modern decathlon. With more than 300 gold medals awarded across 37 disciplines, our lives are suddenly much less productive. To aid in your immersion, we continue with our daily edition of "know your Olympic sport," (check out the whole series here) by serving up some volleyball.
Inside we'll provide thermal imaging, a new ball and a sock for the sand. Let us begin!
Grimace for the Camera
Forget about feeling the burn. In preparation for the Beijing Olympics, beach volleyball players could see it. Scientists at the USOC used thermal imaging capability to provide a real time assessment of inflammation in the body. Athletes would often complain of pain in different joints that couldn't be diagnosed by doctors. But have the player jump around in sand for thirty minutes and the camera could pinpoint the source.
To further hone in on the source computer code was used to post process the data (see figure below). Armed with more description than "my knee sorta hurts," the athletes would return to doctors with analysis in hand for further treatment.
According to Sands, such thermal imaging has been used in medicine for cases of malingering pain but he's unaware of its application for more acute sports medicine applications. The camera itself was nothing special, just a Raytheon infrared camera that Sands had in his Jeep for his part time job in search and rescue. Off the sand, the technology was also used to help tri-athletes and cyclists as well.
Build a Better Ball
With most of the public attention focused squarely on bathing suits in the sand, indoor volleyball is introducing a fancy new ball for the Beijing games. Manufacture Mikasa has provided the official ball to the Olympics for the past 28 years. The introduction of the MVA200 is the first change in the official ball in 10 years featuring a handful of significant modifications.