Research on sports science and technology to make sports safe, interesting and rewarding for all
Sports have the ability to transcend boundaries and improve human health and well-being, but with the help of science and technology, the impact of sports can be even greater. Sports science and technology not only help optimise athletes’ performance in competitions while mitigating the risk of injury, but also address major concerns of public health as well as enabling all people to engage in sports.
Drawing upon its interdisciplinary expertise to support sports development, PolyU established the Research Institute for Sports Science and Technology (RISports) as a constituent research unit of the PolyU Academy for Interdisciplinary Research (PAIR) in June 2022.
A growing need for R&D in sports science and technology
The sports development in Hong Kong and Mainland China calls for a research institute focusing on sports science and technology. The governments have escalated support and promotion for elite as well as public sports, creating new opportunities in the sports sector and industry. While people are paying more attention to health and wellness, achievements in international games by elite athletes have further injected impetus into the popularity of sports in society. The growing consumer needs and expectations for sports experience, together with competitions within the sports product industry have contributed to emerging interests and investments in research and innovation of sports products.
Four research areas
PolyU has the range of critical expertise needed for a world-class sports engineering platform, including knowledge in musculoskeletal biomechanics, sports rehabilitation, health science, engineering and design, as well as textiles and clothing. To address emerging needs in sports research and technology, RISports will collaborate with sports institutes, sporting goods companies, government bodies and non-government organisations in Hong Kong and beyond to provide novel scientific and engineering solutions to the sports world.
RISports’s research areas include:
- Sports biomechanics and human-product interaction
- Sports product design, materials and manufacturing
- Sports measurement, feedback and instrumentation
- Sports training and rehabilitation
Its research efforts will be geared towards four main directions:
Sports-related products, services, and solutions tailored to different groups of people, such as elite athletes, persons with special needs, and the ageing population
Innovative sportswear, equipment, and solutions for a better sports experience
Training and rehabilitation efficacy enhancements
Promotion of sports engagement and sports safety
Ir Professor Zhang Ming, Director of RISports and Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, says, “We have a truly dedicated interdisciplinary research team covering advanced, smart and sustainable materials; manufacturing technique and process; engineering; and human performance and related biomedical measurements and instrumentation.”
“PolyU has the range of critical expertise needed for a world-class sports engineering platform, including knowledge in musculoskeletal biomechanics, sports rehabilitation, health science, engineering and design, as well as textiles and clothing.”
~ Ir Professor Zhang Ming, Director of RISports and Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering
Pushing the frontiers of sports science
Professor Zhang’s committed efforts exemplify RISports’ dedication to research excellence. He has spent 25 years working on the development of a biomechanical platform integrating experimental studies with computational simulations for the understanding of the human musculoskeletal system and its support effects. His research on the body-support interface during sports and exercises can provide fundamental knowledge in body biomechanics to the field of sports science and technology.
“Our computational simulation, using both a musculoskeletal model and a finite element model, can give a clear picture of the biomechanical performance of the foot and ankle and provide useful information for surgical intervention and shoe and orthosis design,” Professor Zhang explains. “This is a useful platform for understanding load transfer inside the body.”
By combining in-depth knowledge of sports and exercise performance, innovative ideas and advanced solutions, RISports helps challenge the status quo of existing technologies and the limits of human performance, aiming to create a new level of sports experience to promote a high-quality and healthy lifestyle for all.
Recently, RISports held its special inauguration ceremony on campus,, attracting the participation of more than 200 PolyU staff, students, alumni, athletes, industry partners and friends. They were joined by Mr Wong Kam-po, Hong Kong’s 2007 Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) track cycling world champion. At the Ceremony, Mr Wong was appointed as a sports ambassador of RISports to promote scientific and technological studies in sports. He also shared with the audience some of his memorable moments as an athlete as well as the joy of doing sports.
Mr Wong Kam-po, former Hong Kong Olympic racing cyclist (fourth from left), was invited to officiate at the launch ceremony of RISports together with Prof. Wong Kwok-yin, Vice President (Education) of PolyU (fourth from right); Prof. Chen Qingyan, Director of the PolyU Academy for Interdisciplinary Research (PAIR) (third from right); Ir Prof. Zhang Ming, Director of RISports (third from left); Prof. Lilly Li, Associate Director of PAIR (second from right); and Associate Directors of RISports including Prof. Fan Jintu (second from left), Prof. Amy Fu (first from left) and Ir Prof. Wen Chih-yung (first from right).