Coventry University Uses Xsens Motion Capture Suit to Investigate the Health Benefits of Gardening

Live Demonstrations at the Chelsea Garden Show will highlight the potential of gardening as a “practical workout” to improve overall fitness

ENSCHEDE, The Netherlands
May 19, 2016

Xsens, industry leaders in motion capture and the makers of the MVN BIOMECH suit, is teaming up with Coventry University, the developers of the Biomechanics of Bodies (BoB) software, for the Chelsea Flower Show (booth GPH249).


The partnership is focused on investigating the health benefits of gardening, including how specific, everyday tasks can help to improve a gardener’s quality of life. Excessive loads while gardening can lead to undue stress on muscles and joints, which can lead to injury. When done properly though, their research suggests those same stresses can replace, or at least compliment a trip to the gym.


“Our technology gets under the skin, quite literally, of anyone who wears Xsens’ motion capture suit, to show precisely how their muscles and joints are working during different gardening activities,” said Dr. Barbara May, Research Fellow (biomechanics) at Coventry University’s Centre for Mobility and Transport. “When the research is completed it will be possible to say how much and what type of gardening is necessary to maintain your health and what is the most efficient way to improve your strength, balance and mobility, whilst you grow your tomatoes. Win-Win!”


Utilizing the Xsens motion capture suit and the BoB software, gardeners can now record their every movement, including the amount of stress they put on individual muscles and joints. That data is tracked, stored and then provided in a customized report. The goal of the investigation is to determine the benefits of gardening, including improvements in bone mineral density, muscle strength, joint mobility and coordination. That, in turn, can increase stamina, reduce the risk of injuries and improve the quality of life.


Since it operates over a Wi-Fi connection, Xsens’ MVN suit can be used anywhere, including the garden itself. The collected data is sent to a nearby computer over a local network, where the BoB software can analyze the movements of up to 600 muscles and 37 joints.


This motion capture technology will be on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, with live demonstrations featuring on-screen avatars and full skeletal mapping in booth GPH249, located in the Discovery Zone. The creators of the BoB software, Dr. James Shippen and Dr. May, will also be in attendance and speaking to members of the press. You can find more details on Coventry’s show presence here.


For a look at examples of output from the BoB data click here.



A technology best known for bringing animated characters to life in games and films, is changing how human movement is studied in research and industry. The MVN BIOMECH system ensures reliable and accurate human motion measurements. Xsens’ tiny motion trackers are able to capture the smallest twitches to high-dynamic movements on a body. The proven MVN BIOMECH biomechanical model and sensor-fusion algorithms ensure the highest quality motion analysis, even in challenging environments. This system transforms 3D human motion tracking into a wearable technology that can be used on production lines, sports fields, in vehicles and aircraft, in the home or any location where human body movement needs to be analyzed with a high level of accuracy. The Xsens MVN BIOMECH is available now from Xsens and its international distribution partners.