Force platform
Force platforms or force plates are measuring instrument
Measuring instrument
In the physical sciences, quality assurance, and engineering, measurement is the activity of obtaining and comparing physical quantities of real-world objects and events. Established standard objects and events are used as units, and the process of measurement gives a number relating the item...

s that measure the ground reaction force
Ground reaction force
In physics, and in particular in biomechanics, the ground reaction force is the force exerted by the ground on a body in contact with it.For example, a person standing on the ground exerts a contact force on it and at the same time an equal and opposite ground reaction force is exerted by the...

s generated by a body standing on or moving across them, to quantify balance
Balance (ability)
In biomechanics, balance is an ability to maintain the center of gravity of a body within the base of support with minimal postural sway. When exercising the ability to balance, one is said to be balancing....

, gait
Gait is the pattern of movement of the limbs of animals, including humans, during locomotion over a solid substrate. Most animals use a variety of gaits, selecting gait based on speed, terrain, the need to maneuver, and energetic efficiency...

 and other parameters of biomechanics
Biomechanics is the application of mechanical principles to biological systems, such as humans, animals, plants, organs, and cells. Perhaps one of the best definitions was provided by Herbert Hatze in 1974: "Biomechanics is the study of the structure and function of biological systems by means of...

. Most common areas of application are medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

 and sports.

The simplest force platform is a plate with a single pedestal, instrumented as a load cell. Better designs have a pair of rectangular plates, although triangular can also work, one over another with load cell
Load cell
A load cell is a transducer that is used to convert a force into electrical signal. This conversion is indirect and happens in two stages. Through a mechanical arrangement, the force being sensed deforms a strain gauge. The strain gauge measures the deformation as an electrical signal, because the...

s or triaxial force transducers between them at the corners.

The simplest force plates measure only the vertical component of the force in the geometric centre of the platform. More advanced models measure the three-dimensional components of the single equivalent force applied to the surface and its point of application, usually called the centre of pressure
Center of pressure
The center of pressure is the point on a body where the total sum of a pressure field acts, causing a force and no moment about that point. The total force vector acting at the center of pressure is the value of the integrated vectorial pressure field. The resultant force and center of pressure...

, as well as the vertical moment of force. Cylindrical force plates have also been constructed for studying arboreal locomotion
Arboreal locomotion
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In every habitat in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some animals may only scale trees occasionally, while others are exclusively arboreal. These habitats pose numerous mechanical challenges to animals...

, including brachiation
Brachiation is a form of arboreal locomotion in which primates swing from tree limb to tree limb using only their arms.- Brachiators :...


Force platforms may be classified as single-pedestal or multi-pedestal and by the transducer (force and moment transducer
A transducer is a device that converts one type of energy to another. Energy types include electrical, mechanical, electromagnetic , chemical, acoustic or thermal energy. While the term transducer commonly implies the use of a sensor/detector, any device which converts energy can be considered a...

) type: strain gauge
Strain gauge
A strain gauge is a device used to measure the strain of an object. Invented by Edward E. Simmons and Arthur C. Ruge in 1938, the most common type of strain gauge consists of an insulating flexible backing which supports a metallic foil pattern. The gauge is attached to the object by a suitable...

, piezoelectric sensor
Piezoelectric sensor
A piezoelectric sensor is a device that uses the piezoelectric effect to measure pressure, acceleration, strain or force by converting them to an electrical charge.-Applications:...

s, capacitance
In electromagnetism and electronics, capacitance is the ability of a capacitor to store energy in an electric field. Capacitance is also a measure of the amount of electric potential energy stored for a given electric potential. A common form of energy storage device is a parallel-plate capacitor...

 gauge, piezoresistive, etc., each with its advantages and drawbacks. Single pedestal models, sometimes called load cells, are suitable for forces that are applied over a small area. For studies of movements, such as gait analysis, force platforms with at least three pedestals and usually four are used to permit forces that migrate across the plate. For example, during walking ground reaction forces start at the heel and finish near the big toe.

Force platforms should be distinguished from pressure measuring systems that, although they too quantify centre of pressure, do not directly measure the applied force vector. Pressure measuring plates are useful for quantifying the pressure patterns under a foot over time but cannot quantify horizontal or shear
Shear stress
A shear stress, denoted \tau\, , is defined as the component of stress coplanar with a material cross section. Shear stress arises from the force vector component parallel to the cross section...

 components of the applied forces.

The measurements from a force platform can be either studied in isolation, or combined with other data, such as limb kinematics
Kinematics is the branch of classical mechanics that describes the motion of bodies and systems without consideration of the forces that cause the motion....

 to understand the principles of locomotion. If an organism makes a standing jump from a force plate, the data from the plate alone is sufficient to calculate acceleration
In physics, acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time. In one dimension, acceleration is the rate at which something speeds up or slows down. However, since velocity is a vector, acceleration describes the rate of change of both the magnitude and the direction of velocity. ...

, work, power
Power (physics)
In physics, power is the rate at which energy is transferred, used, or transformed. For example, the rate at which a light bulb transforms electrical energy into heat and light is measured in watts—the more wattage, the more power, or equivalently the more electrical energy is used per unit...

 output, jump angle, and jump distance using basic physics. Simultaneous video measurements of leg joint angles and force plate output can allow the determination of torque, work and power at each joint using a method called inverse dynamics
Inverse dynamics
Inverse dynamics is an inverse problem. It commonly refers to either inverse rigid body dynamics or inverse structural dynamics. Inverse rigid-body dynamics is a method for computing forces and/or moments of force based on the kinematics of a body and the body's inertial properties...


Major manufacturers

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