Geoffrey Carmody


The Study, Design and Build of an Interactive, Pressure Sensing Rowing Footplate.


The aim of this thesis is to design and develop a system for measuring footplate pressure on a rowing ergometer. The motivation behind the work was a desire to provide a device to aid in two distinct areas; firstly to improve rowing technique and following from this improvement to reduce the occurrence of ergometer induced back injury. This work directly confronts an area of the rowing stroke which has been neglected in the past, namely data collection and analysis of the foot drive in the rowing stroke.
The research was grounded in the ethnographical perspective. Within this framework the cooperative design process was widely utilised to obtain specific user requirements. User groups were carefully selected to provide insight into the precise and detailed needs of the disparate groups of Junior, Senior, Novice, Veteran and Coaching teams. Both female and male users participated in the design process.
The research progressed through an iterative process of prototyping. Each prototype was realised and then subjected to further group analysis until a final design was reached. Prior research into similar rowing performance devices was utilised to guide this process. The final design outcome resulted in a simple cost efficient device based on pressure sensitive pads constructed of Neoprene and pressure conductive materials. The system visually communicates the interaction of good footplate technique to overall rowing performance. In addition such good technique promotes the reduction of back injury occurrence among ergometer users; both in the rowing setting and the wider gymnasium community.

These results open out some possibilities for new research and design. The interaction of footplate pressure, oar pressure and slide movement, taken together as a measure of overall boat speed, is fruitful ground for further work. In addition there is room for new insights into footplate pressure application and other sporting events which rely on foot drive for overall performance.

Geoffrey Carmody
Geoffrey Carmody