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Sliding from the ski trails to advanced mathematical models — Meet Ida, our Head of Algorithms Development

The innovation at Myotest is driven by the passion of its people. In this series of posts, go behind the scenes and meet our team members who bring biomechanics to life with their love of sports.

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Ida Aichinger is our mathematician from Austria, with a passion for mountain sports and running. She specializes in data analysis and scientific software development, having previously worked at the CERN, INTEL and Idiap before joining Myotest in 2018. Since then, as Head of Algorithms Development, she enjoys testing the technology on the field and jumps from projects such as the Post Run Feedback to developing a shoe recommendation engine.

What’s one item you always have with you?

My running shoes! It’s so easy to take them, they don’t need a lot of space. Running helps to relax, discover new areas on holidays, and it’s efficient from a time and exercise perspective.

How did you end up at Myotest?

I was really lucky. I had recently moved to Sion and one day on my way to the climbing gym, I passed by Myotest’s office and I saw the company’s name in a big panel on the top of the building. Curious, I took a picture with my phone to check out the company’s homepage. I couldn’t believe that they just happened to have an opening for a Software Engineer in Sports Algorithm Development. I applied, we immediately found common skills and interests, and I started my work contract on the first day of the following month.

Why Myotest?

For me, Myotest is a unique opportunity to combine my passion for sports with my professional skills of developing mathematical models. Myotest is a modern, dynamic and cutting-edge technology software licensing company. It is exciting to analyze data ranging from novices to top athletes, extract information, develop algorithms and implement them into our wearables which will end up on the market and help athletes of all levels improve their performance.

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Part of the team. We live and breathe outdoor sports.

What projects have you been working on?

Mathematics is the language of nature and business. Everything around us can be described in mathematical terms, so its applications are also very wide-ranging. I have had the chance to apply my skills to a variety of fields — finance for the City of Linz in Austria, physics at the CERN in Geneva, machine learning at Idiap in Martigny. Today, at Myotest, I work to develop algorithms for sports and life tracking.

My first project was in collaboration with an external company to analyze walking gaits. A smaller project followed, where I implemented for the first time Myotest’s software libraries into a wearable. It was great to design the application and to see the functionality of the algorithms. Afterwards, Myotest launched a big project in collaboration with a global leading electronics company. We already had 28 running metrics that we could capture in real time, so we added a Post Run Feedback service and running guidance to deepen the runner’s understanding of their biomechanics, as well a GPS replacement system, which is useful in places where the GPS tends to have a low accuracy, for example in cities. Another project was about shoe recommendation. The challenge was to use the unique biomechanics of a runner to predict the best running shoe for them. We launched a study with hundreds of athletes, captured their biomechanics and shoe preference. From there, we set up an engine that uniquely recommends running shoes.

What’s your role as Head of Algorithms Development?

Algorithm development stretches very wide, from interpreting the raw accelerometer signal to extracting Myotests’s running biomechanics to further post-process this data and give meaningful information to the user. My main role is to make sure that the algorithms are stable, reliable, and meet the expectations of our clients. To verify that, I enjoy testing the new implemented features on the track or in a sports lab close by. These validation runs are then cross-referenced with other sensors around the body.

What’s the biggest challenge of your work?

At Myotest, we get information from the accelerometer in a small wearable on the wrist. From this data captured at the extremity of one of our limbs, we work to provide a full analysis of the running style and how to improve it. This is extremely complex, as several mathematics transformations must be executed to obtain an accurate analysis.

In addition, a small team like Myotest’s requires jumping from one project to another within a day. This requires working in a very organized and disciplined manner, which can be challenging. But it’s also a great way to learn something new every day, put the learned theory into practice and have discussions with experts from sports and software development.

Mathematics is the language of nature and business. Everything around us can be described in mathematical terms, so its applications are also very wide-ranging.

How do you like to start your day?

I have a quick coffee at home, then I bike from a small mountain village to the office in Sion. It takes me about 50 minutes. It is nice to start the day with a ride overseeing the Rhone valley, feeling the wind from the downhill, and letting my thoughts wander.

How’s the work life at Myotest?

Typically, in the morning, we briefly discuss all together our objectives for the day. Some people connect to the meeting online, others are onsite in Sion — I am usually in the office. The rest of the day is usually very varied. We might have meetings with customers, or I will work independently on my tasks, or we will initiate brainstorming or debugging sessions. In between all of this, we grab a coffee and chat a bit around the stand-up tables in the office. I like to use the lunch break for a run to the vineyards or up to the nearby Mont d’Orge, especially in the wintertime.

How’s your life outside of work? What are you most passionate about?

I love to practice outdoor sports and Valais is definitely a perfect spot for these types of activities! Having time to go for a trail run in the evening, some climbing or a run next to the Rhone is really a privilege.

My biggest passion is ski touring. This winter, Myotest supported me to participate in the Patrouille des Glaciers (PDG), a ski touring race from Zermatt to Verbier in teams of three athletes. It’s a challenge of more than 57 km in total length and 4300 m in height difference. Together with my two teammates, we trained since early autumn to be able to perform our best possible. We started with a lot of running and hiking until the snow came and we switched to ski touring. The plan was to start at 22:00 and finish before 16:00 on the next day (28th of April). Countless hours were invested in this project, but unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic caused the organization to cancel the race. Hopefully in two years I can participate again.

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Ida loves outdoor sports such as ski touring and climbing

How do you see the future of technology and biomechanics being used in sports?

Data properly processed is information and information properly analyzed is extremely powerful.

In the past years, we have seen how training plans have improved in most sports. A few years ago, a football player was at the end of his career by the age of 30, but nowadays more and more players play at top level until they are close to 40 years old. The correct use of data from sensors is vital in providing tailored training to athletes both at a professional and amateur level. We can monitor the athlete to prevent future injuries, therefore maximizing performance and increasing the duration of their active sports life. In time we will have more and more data for different sports — we are just experiencing the tip of the iceberg. Creating a motion sensor to capture data is relatively easy, but raw data is nothing better than noise. It is necessary to interpret this data and this is what Myotest does best.

Data properly processed is information and information properly analyzed is extremely powerful.

Favorite memory at Myotest?

Every time I go for a run to test the new implemented features in the watch and the display shows what we expect. This moment brings a big smile to my face.

Favorite songs to run to?

The Pretender – Foo Fighters. This song gives a lot of motivation and an extra energy kick to run fast and explosively.

Flaws – Kygo and Avicii. It is a nice song to cool down or to go for a chill run.

We’re Myotest, a Swiss company working with the wearables and sporting goods industry, sharing our passion for biomechanics to improve athletic user experience.

Written by

We’re Myotest, a Swiss company working with the wearables and sporting goods industry, sharing our passion for biomechanics to improve athletic user experience.

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