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Accuracy and validity of a GPS system for race timing in rowing Dr Tony Rice Department of Physiology, Australian institute

of Sport, Belconnen, ACT 2616

Global positioning system (GPS) technology has shown rapid improvement in the last decade due to wide spread acceptance and inclusion into the car manufacturing and domestic navigation markets. The desire for navigation data has driven a rapid miniaturisation of generic GPS receivers such that they are now a standard inclusion within many mobile phones. One significant improvement of current GPS receivers has been the accuracy of the position estimation. In the last decade, the circular error probability (CEP), which is a guide to the ability of the GPS receiver to accurately calculate its position on the earth's surface, has decreased from 20-30m to 1-5m with current generation single frequency GPS receivers. The improvement in accuracy of the position calculation from low cost generic GPS receivers provides a platform for this information to supplement position and time information from other sources such as video and electronic timing. With these improvements in precision, the applicability of GPS data to the sporting environment has begun. In fact, in the last 10 years GPS information has begun to infiltrate high performance sport as it enables users to routinely gather accurate position, velocity and time related data from multiple users (now referred to as athlete tracking) in a very short time frame. There are a variety of GPS based athlete tracking systems now commercially available. The Australian Institute of Sport has been involved in the design and manufacture of inertial data loggers with built-in GPS and RF capabilities that weigh under 70g. The GPS devices (MiniMaxX, Catapult Innovations, Australia) have been used by the Australian Rowing Team for the last 3 years. Inertial data are recorded at 100Hz and GPS data at 5Hz. The aim of this investigation was to validate the position and time related data from MiniMaxX which was specifically developed for rowing. Rowing boat data collected from national and international races using the MiniMaxX system was compared with position and time data collected from the official timing system.

Methods The GPS device The MiniMaxX system (Catapult Innovations, Melbourne, Australia) incorporates a high accuracy GPS receiver with a range of inertial sensors that are able to measure rowing boat movements during training and competition Rowing boat position, velocity and time (PVT) were sampled from the GPS receiver at 1-5Hz (iTrax03, Fastrax Ltd, Vantaa, Finland) . PVT data between successive GPS readings were obtained at 100Hz using interpolation of data from the inertial sensors (Zhang et al, 2004). The CEP of the GPS receiver was 1.0m at 50% and 1.2m at 95%. MiniMaxX devices were fitted to the stern of 317 boats competing at national and international regatta's where Olympic standard timing systems were employed. Each unit was positioned on the boat to ensure

optimal precision of position calculation (as measured by the horizontal dilution of precision, HDOP). This involved placing the unit of the stern canvas of the boat away from the shadow caused by the stroke person of the boat. Associated software The MiniMaxX data was downloaded, viewed and manipulated using proprietary software. The section of data containing the race was highlighted and the software automatically determined the race start based on the first movement of the boat from the inertial sensors. The race was then measured from the starting position to when the boat had travelled a straight line distance of 2000m using GPS position (latitude / longitude) information. Position data at each successive latitude / longitude measurement was not added to the previous value as this would have resulted in an accumulation of any error in the measurement. Reliability Trials A total of 45 races were used to establish the reliability of the MiniMaxX device to determine time taken to complete 2000m. Two separate units were placed on the boat at identical distance from the bow prior to the boat undertaking a 2000m race on an international regatta course. Data collected by the devices was downloaded after each race and races were identified using the procedures outline above Data Collection A total of 317 races were measured from 8 different rowing regatta venues across all boat classes. Races were only analysed if they were held at venues which employed a timing system equivalent to that used during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. These included Great Britain (Eton), Germany (Munich), Australia (Penrith), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Austria (Linz) and Switzerland (Lucerne). Prior to the boat leaving the pontoon for the race start the GPS device was attached to the stern of the boat facing the direction of travel. At the completion of the race the unit was removed from the boat and the data downloaded. Data analysis Data are presented as mean standard deviation. Reliability of the MiniMaxX unit to determine time taken to complete 2000m was described using the typical error (Hopkins et al 2000a) with upper and lower confidence limits (CL) determined at 95%. Log transformed data was used to calculate the coefficient of variation (%CV) between the two measures. Correlation between measures was established with the Pearson correlation coefficient. Final race times measured by the MiniMaxX device were compared to official electronic photo-finish times obtained following each 2000m race. Both timing systems measured race time to 1/100th of a second. Validity was established using the typical error of the estimate with 95% upper and lower CL (Hopkins et al 2000b). Log transformed data was used to calculate the %CV between criterion and practical measures. The typical error of the estimate divided by the standard deviation of the criterion measure (Standardised Cohen effect size) was used to determine if the difference between the official photo finish time and MiniMaxX times were trivial (<0.20); small (0.2-0.6); moderate (0.6-1.2); large (1.2-2.0) or very large (>2.0). In addition, for the 2007 World Championships (n=27 races) the time taken to complete the first 100m split time was obtained from the official race timing system and this was compared with the data from the MiniMaxX device

and analysed using the typical error of the estimate, %CV and standardised Cohen effect sizes procedures outlined above.

Results Reliability of determination of 2000m race times Mean time to complete a 2000m race for both MiniMaxX devices was 393.93 33.34s vs 393.98 33.33s. Typical error for the MiniMaxX unit was 0.30s with a lower CL of 0.25s and an upper CL of 0.38s. Translated to a displacement error this would equate to a variation in typical error of the two units to be ~1.5m. Expressed as a %CV this equates to 0.08% with an lower CL of 0.6% and an upper CL of 0.10%. Fig. 1 shows a Bland Altman plot for the change scores in log transformed data against the log of the first measure. There was minimal variation between the two measures with the largest variation being 0.28%. Correlation between the units was R=1.0000.

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Fig. 1 Difference between log transformed data of the two measures plotted against the log transformed data from the first measure. Validity of 2000m race times determined by MiniMaxX Mean difference between photo finish time and MiniMaxX time to complete 2000m was -0.11 0.50s (400.48 36.00s vs 400.37 36.06s, respectively). Bias was -0.11s in favour of MiniMaxX determination. The largest difference between measures from the same race was 1.60s with the smallest difference being 0.00s. Typical error of the estimate between photo finish time and MiniMaxX time was 0.49s with a lower CL of 0.46s and an upper CL of 0.54s. The standardised Cohen effect size for this typical error is 0.01 which is scored as trivial. Log transformed data expresses the typical error of the estimate between the two measures as 0.1% with a lower CL of 0.116% and an upper CL of 0.136%. For the 317 races where data

was collected a displacement error of ~2.4m is calculated for a typical error of estimate of 0.49s. Pearsons correlation was R=0.99991 between the two measures (Fig. 2).

520.0 500.0 480.0 460.0 Photo Finish Time (ss.s) 440.0 420.0 400.0 380.0 360.0 340.0 320.0 300.0 300.0

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Fig. 2 Relationship between official photo finish time and MiniMaxX time to complete a 2000m race across different boat classes

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Fig.3 Residual vs predicted for 100log transformed variables for photo finish time and MiniMaxX time to complete 2000m.

Validity of 100m race times determined by MiniMaxX Mean difference between official 100m time and MiniMaxX time was -0.14 0.46s (20.38 1.29s vs 20.24 1.32s, respectively). Bias was -0.14s in favour of MiniMaxX determination. The largest difference between measures from the same race was 1.03s with the smallest difference being -0.02s. Typical error of the estimate between photo finish time and MiniMaxX time was 0.46s with a lower CL of 0.36s and an upper CL of 0.63s. The standardised Cohen effect size for this typical error is 0.35 which is scored as small. Log transformed data expresses the typical error between the two measures as 2.2% with an lower CL of 1.7% and an upper CL of 3.1%. Pearsons correlation was R=0.93837 between the two measures. For the 27 races where data was collected for 100m split times a displacement error of ~2.3m is calculated for a typical error of estimate of 0.46s.

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Fig.4 Residual vs predicted for 100log transformed variables for photo finish time and MiniMaxX time to complete the first 100m of the race.

Discussion Data from the present investigation illustrate that the MiniMaxX GPS device can provide a valid estimation of 2000m race time compared to official photo finish time with an error between the criterion and practical measure over 2000m of 0.1%. Despite this increasing to 2.2% for a distance of 100m the absolute displacement error remained stable at <2.5m which falls just outside a 95% CEP of 1.2m (the 95% CEP diameter would be 2.4m).

Limitations of the MiniMaxX unit to measure 2000m race distance. The method adopted in this investigation to measure 2000m using the MiniMaxX GPS device is not without errors and limitations. The MiniMaxX race time was calculated as the time difference between two positional readings. The position to mark the start of the race was taken 200ms prior to the first significant movement detected by the inertial sensors. This was done to account for an average reaction time so that the start time coincided as closely as possible to the actual start time of the race. The scenario described would be true only if reaction time was always 200ms and the first movement of the boat occurred 200ms after the start signal. These assumptions provide the greatest scope for error with our method. If for example the boat missed the start signal (i.e. was slow to react to the start signal) the MiniMaxX data would calculate the total time for the 2000m race quicker than the official race time. The converse can be said that if the boat left the start prior to the signal as the MiniMaxX 2000m race time would be longer than the official race time. This latter scenario is less like to occur due to strict start procedures adopted during international regattas. The time taken to complete the 2000m course for the MiniMaxX data set was then calculated as the difference in GPS times between the latitude and longitude position immediately prior to the first significant movement on the inertial sensors and the position measurement 2000m in a straight line from the determined start position. As this method involves an accurate measurement of the boats position on the earths surface potential sources for error can be included. The 95% CEP for the GPS receiver used in this study is documented as 1.2m. This suggests that 95% of the measurements of a boats position on the earth will be within a circle of 2.4m diameter. This value can be reduced with averaging successive measures and taking the mean boat position. As boats remain stationary for at least 2 mins prior to the start of each race we used a 15s average of the position immediately prior to the start of the race in an attempt to ensure a best possible measure of start position for each boat. Unfortunately, this method cannot be used to determine the 2000m finish position as the boats could be moving at velocities up to 6.5 m/s. As such there is a greater potential error in the determination of the 2000m finish position and thus time taken to complete the 2000m race. The benefit of determining 2000m race time using only two GPS position measurements readings as opposed to integrating position measurements continually as the boat travels down the course is that steering errors by the crew are not included in the time taken to complete the race. Despite the sources of error outlined above, our estimated error is in keeping with the manufacturers specification of a CEP95 value of 2.4m diameter. Within our typical error of estimate margin of 0.49s, the slowest boat (average velocity 4.04 m/s) could travel ~1.9m and the fastest boat (average velocity 6.13 m/s) could travel ~3.0m. Therefore it is appears that the majority of the error from the present investigation can be attributed to the precision of measurement of the GPS receiver. Comparisons to the current literature. Edgecomb and Norton (2006) compared GPS determined distance to that recorded by a trundle wheel pedometer and a Computer-Based tracking (CBT) system. The average error of the GPS distance when compared to the trundle-wheel measured distance was 4.8 7.2%. This was lower than the CBT system average error of +5.8 7.4%. Our average time difference expressed as a percentage was -0.03 0.13% which translates to a distance error of ~2.5m which is considerably less that that reported.

Applications The strong correlation between MiniMaxX determined and photo-finish measured times indicate a potential to develop GPS-based race timing if the degree of precision can be further improved. It is possible to increase the accuracy of GPS by using differential GPS (dGPS) techniques. This is an augmentation applied to the normal GPS that reduces systematic error (Larsson 2003). A fixed permanent receiver is placed at a known location on the ground. These stationary receivers compare their fixed position with the position being given by the satellites. The receiver can then send correction signals via a differential receiver to the GPS receiver (Larsson 2003). However, dGPS comes with an associated infrastructure that reduces the practicality of GPS timing. The GPS receiver chips used would be bigger, require a separate channel for the signal correction to be transmitted on and would require a larger power supply. The strength of our GPS device is its simplicity, size and function and as a result we believe that with further development of low cost, low real-estate GPS receivers, the accuracy and applicability of this method will only increase. Conclusion This paper affirms that the MiniMaxX GPS device can measure accurate 2000m race times (95% of the time the value will be <0.54s) compared to an internationally recognised gold standard. This strongly supports the use of this device as an accurate training and racing monitoring tool, and introduces a potential area of development in a GPS-based race timing system.

References 1. Edgecomb, SJ., Norton, KI. (2006) Comparison of global positioning and computer-based tracking systems for measuring player movement distance during Australian football. J Sci Med Sport. 9(12):25-32 2. Hopkins, WG (2000)a. Reliability from consecutive pairs of trials (Excel spreadsheet). In: A new view of statistics. sportsci.org: Internet Society for Sport Science, sportsci.org/resource/stats/xrely.xls 3. Hopkins, WG (2000)b. Analysis of validity by linear regression (Excel spreadsheet). In: A new view of statistics. sportsci.org: Internet Society for Sport Science, sportsci.org/resource/stats/xvalid.xls 4. Larsson, P (2003). Global positioning system and sport-specific testing. Sports Med. 33(15):1093101 5. Zhang, K., Deakin, R., Grenfell, R., Li, Y., Zhang, J., Cameron, W.N. and Silcock D.M. (2004) GNSS for sports sailing and rowing perspectives, Journal of GPS, 3(1+2), 280-289.