Hallo! My name is Heike Brock and I am researcher in sports engineering/sport informatics.
Sports Engineering? What? Is that a real subject? To make it short – yes, it is. But don’t worry if you have never heard of it before, you won’t be alone with that…
In essence, sports engineering constitutes the development of technologies for the sports industry and all its related and dependent research activities. This field is very broad and includes a diverse accumulation of research domains transferred into the sporting environment. As a sport engineer, you can design the new generation of running shoes. Or lighter and more aerodynamic bicycles. But you can also develop new motion sensing technologies or algorithms for data and signal processing. My work is for example mostly concerned with the creation of software solutions that provide information on motion performances. One could hence also call it applied computer science for human motion data, which is a pretty unusual field of research. So how did I get to do what I am doing right now?
Early Career Influences
Since my early childhood, I loved and enjoyed sports – both actively and passively. I was a competitive and compassionate athlete in figure skating and athletics (pole vault and 400m) during elementary and high school. Whenever I could, I watched winter sports, formula 1 and European/World Championships. I even visited two Olympic Games as participant in German Olympic Camps. And I felt the urge to understand the fundamental concepts behind my own current and previous motion performances. But I decided to not study sport sciences. Instead, I enrolled for ‘something more useful’. Still, I maintained my passion for sports over college and graduate school. Actively, I let out my joy for sports by playing lacrosse and tumbling on a trampoline. Passively, I let it out by combining sports with my main subject of computer science. This led to a bachelor thesis on the motion capturing of trampolining and pole vaulting, and a master thesis on the automatic classification of trampoline jumps from inertial motion sensor data. And initiated the professional I am right now – Heike Brock, sports engineer.
To date, I am a PhD candidate at Keio University Tokyo, Japan, and have acquired 8 years of experience in the field of wearable motion sensing and motion information retrieval. My primary research interests focus on the development of data mining and retrieval technologies for motion information systems from wearable sensor data.
Before coming to Japan for my PhD, I was furthermore a research member at the Institute of Sport Science at Leibniz University, Hanover. There, I implemented a wearable movement sonification system for use in motor learning and rehabilitation.
I received a M.Sc. in Visual Computing from Saarland University in 2011 and a B.Eng in Audiovisual Media from Stuttgart Media University in 2008. During my master studies in Saarbruecken, I was a student assistant in the Multimedia Information Retrieval group in the Cluster of Excellence for Multimodal Computing and Interaction (MMCI) at the Max-Planck Institute of Informatics, Department 4 Computer Graphics.
Currently, I am a scholar of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). In July 2016, I was awarded the adidas Best Student Paper Award at the Engineering of Sport 11 held in Delft, Netherlands. This biannual conference offers the chance to present the newest innovations in sports engineering under the official institution of the International Sports Engineering Association (ISEA). The award was a great honor for me and constitutes the temporary highlight of my career.