DOI: 10.3390/s23177339 ISSN:

A Novel Inexpensive Camera-Based Photoelectric Barrier System for Accurate Flying Sprint Time Measurement

Tom Uhlmann, Sabrina Bräuer, Falk Zaumseil, Guido Brunnett
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Analytical Chemistry

This paper introduces a novel approach to addressing the challenge of accurately timing short distance runs, a critical aspect in the assessment of athletic performance. Electronic photoelectric barriers, although recognized for their dependability and accuracy, have remained largely inaccessible to non-professional athletes and smaller sport clubs due to their high costs. A comprehensive review of existing timing systems reveals that claimed accuracies beyond 30 ms lack experimental validation across most available systems. To bridge this gap, a mobile, camera-based timing system is proposed, capitalizing on consumer-grade electronics and smartphones to provide an affordable and easily accessible alternative. By leveraging readily available hardware components, the construction of the proposed system is detailed, ensuring its cost-effectiveness and simplicity. Experiments involving track and field athletes demonstrate the proficiency of the proposed system in accurately timing short distance sprints. Comparative assessments against a professional photoelectric cells timing system reveal a remarkable accuracy of 62 ms, firmly establishing the reliability and effectiveness of the proposed system. This finding places the camera-based approach on par with existing commercial systems, thereby offering non-professional athletes and smaller sport clubs an affordable means to achieve accurate timing. In an effort to foster further research and development, open access to the device’s schematics and software is provided. This accessibility encourages collaboration and innovation in the pursuit of enhanced performance assessment tools for athletes.

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