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THE SPOT – meet the guest speakers! 

Caecilia Charbonnier, former top athlete and now VR technology pioneer, explains in an interview with iSportconnect how her motion capture technology benefits numerous industries, including the sport sector.

From Tennis to VR Technology 

If anyone coming to THE SPOT this year personally embodies the connection between sport, innovation and technology, it is conference speaker Caecilia Charbonnier.

Before getting deeply into the technology sector, Caecilia, who is research director at Geneva-based Artanim and CTO at Dreamscape Immersive, was a top athlete in one of the most competitive of professional sports.

“I was a professional tennis player until I was 18 years old, “ she says. “I played the major tournaments, including Grand Slam, and The Fed Cup for my country (she was ranked number four in Switzerland). I had to stop my career because of a repetitive shoulder injury. I had surgery twice.” 

Fortunately, she continued her studies, in International Relations and Computer Science at the University of Geneva, and she steered herself into computer graphics, pursuing a PhD in biomechanics. Her core research was analyzing, in 3D, the movements of ballerinas’ hips.

“I would say that studying movement is a fundamental legacy from my sport career,” she says.

After getting her doctorate, she created Artanim as a non-profit research center specialised in motion capture technologies with projects in orthopedics and sport medicine, as well as VR and AR. 

At Artanim she has undertaken advanced research in joint motion analysis to understand specific sport injuries for diagnosis and treatment planning. 

Her center also worked on a garment simulation project, in collaboration with Swiss manufacturer Odlo, to improve the design and comfort of sport clothing. 

“Motion capture opens up many opportunities in the world of sport, from medicine, performance to virtual simulation,” she says.

Artanim’s virtual dance piece VR_I, created with Cie Gilles Jobin, won the Innovation Award and the Public Award at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montreal 2017 and it was selected for the Sundance Film Festival New Frontier 2018.

Dreamscape was set up as the spin-off of Artanim to commercialise Artanim’s VR platform with major investments from Hollywood heavyweights (MGM, Fox, Warner, IMAX, Steven Spielberg, etc.). 

Dreamscape has no direct relations to sport for now, but that may come if it designs specific VR experiences in sport-based entertainment, for example. 

Where is the virtual world going to take sport 10 or 20 years from now?

Caecilia sounds like a true athlete in making her reply.

“I believe virtual worlds will never replace the sensation and satisfaction of making an effort during sport,” she says. “Even in the most advanced simulations.”

But she adds, “Or maybe that could happen, in more than 20 years…”

By Jay Stuart, Editor at iSportconnect

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