05/05/2011 by Carl Reynolds
I was thinking the other day about how you come to recognise people by their stroke. Other recognisable features get lost under the googles and silicone; and people’s shapes are different in swim suits to their shape in clothes – and over time you get to recognise people by how they swim. So pop me under water in the lido and I could identify several of the lido regulars by the way that they swim. This set me thinking on the practical use of such intelligence.
I can see that it might be useful to a lifeguard – “oh, that’s Carl he’s always doing endless lengths and his stroke’s been the same for the last half hour” – and also to guides on a swimming holiday, but otherwise? So I goggled ‘recognising people by their gait’ and was amazed at the sheer volume of research that goes into being able to recognise people by the shape of their motion. A speedy read seems to suggest a strong link to AI, robotics and security applications…and I’d hazard a guess that Kinect and other gaming devices that detect motion have built on this research. Research that goes back to the innovative photographic work of Eadweard Muybridge on the motion of horses.
So next time you’re in the water see if you can identify swimmers by their stroke.