Our researchers are using state-of-the-art motion capture technology to accurately measure complex hand dexterity for the first time. The unique new system has potential applications in a range of fields, from music to healthcare.
"Human hand function is fascinating when you think of the variety of tasks we perform every day,” says Dr Cheryl Metcalf of Health Sciences at Southampton. “However, measuring human hand function is complex given the many different ways we can complete a task."
Cheryl designed and developed the Hand and Wrist Kinematic (HAWK) system, the first technique to accurately measure the dynamics of hand and wrist movements. It is helping researchers make huge strides in understanding the way the hands move to complete functional tasks.
It works by receiving three-dimensional coordinates from a number of fixed points on the wrist, hand, fingers and thumb from a motion capture system, measuring the dynamic joint information to an accuracy of less than one degree.
Cheryl has teamed up with David Owen Norris, who is a world-renowned pianist and a professor at Southampton, to use HAWK to look at individual pianists’ playing techniques. They aim to find out more about how pianists’ posture, movements and the positioning of their hands affect the sound they create. The study will also provide new information on musicians’ hand health to combat repetitive strain injury – a common problem for pianists.