The Department of Kinesiology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is becoming the center of choice for companies looking to put their products to the test.

“We have gained recognition nationally and internationally with our research and facilities,” said Professor Dr. Randy Bonnette. “Our Kinesiology Department is quickly becoming the ‘go to’ place for individuals who wish to learn more and become an expert in the field of sport performance.”

The team of researchers and students has tested products like electronic shoe inserts, sport performance drinks, TRX bands, and other strength and conditioning equipment to see if they really make a difference in performance.

One of those corporate partnerships was with the MedHab Company. They had developed a wireless, remote monitoring, pressure sensing shoe insert that is used for sports performance enhancement. Bonnette says the company came to the Island University because of its reputation as a well-known sports performance research facility.

“MedHab developed an electronic shoe insert that gives you feedback about pressure areas on the foot as it makes impact with the ground during running,” Bonnette said. “For example, if too much pressure was on the heel, this is likely to indicate not enough forward lean of the runner.”

Bonnette’s department performed four weeks of video gait analysis research to test the product to see if it worked as the company claimed. Gait analysis typically involves visual observation of a performer to check for mechanical soundness of movement. This typically involves taking video of the subject in motion and analyzing the movement using video analysis software. The A&M-Corpus Christi Kinesiology Department has two state-of-the-art video systems that are specifically designed to do this type of testing, Bonnette said.

“We have used one of the systems for the past eight years in our labs for all sorts of biomechanical analysis, from major league baseball swings to a college student on a surfboard doing a snap roll,” he said.

“When you see Lebron James on a video game and it looks just like him when he moves, that is because it is him, because he was video-taped using a system similar to the motion capture system, including high speed cameras and an infrared light-sensing suit, like the one we have with the Vicon system,” said Bonnette.

MedHab developers claimed that their product would give faster performance feedback to the athlete. According to the company, the shoe inserts, embedded with various sensors and a microcontroller, which provides data on athletes' gait, range of motion, power and pressure distribution so deficiencies in bilateral movement can be corrected and optimized. Thus, a performer would get instant feedback and make quick adjustments to their movement as opposed of waiting on a video analysis.

After weeks of analysis, the team of University researchers determined the product did work.

Bonnette said this type of research, in partnerships with the corporate world, is in line with the goal of the department to use less lecture and more hands-on, experiential learning activities for students.

“Such partnerships also provide a more dynamic learning experience, help fund students’ degrees and provide services through assistantships that increase the productivity of faculty,” he said.