A "happy accident" led a consortium of six institutions to win £3.5 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to help Britain prepare for the London Olympics.
Stephen Hailes, deputy head of the department of computer science at University College London, met Jonathan Cameron from Cambridge University at a PhD viva, and they soon realised that their research interests in sport and technology married perfectly.
From this grew the Sensing for Sport and Managed Exercise consortium.
The project between UCL, Cambridge, the Royal Veterinary College and University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, will develop new technologies to monitor young athletes and to identify world-class potential.
It uses wireless sensor technology to monitor the performance of athletes, and to give them feedback, as they train.
The project could also help patients recover from surgery, stroke or injury as well as support people with disabilities.
"Interdisciplinary projects are less difficult in reality than people imagine," Dr Hailes said. "Someone needs to pick up the phone but people are generally responsive and everybody brings something to the table."
The two computer science departments involved bring expertise in sensor networking and video analysis, Cambridge's engineering department brings accurate 3-D motion analysis, the Royal Veterinary College's biomechanics team knows what makes animals go fast, and UWIC offers expertise in sport science.