It’s often been said that football is a game of yards, measured in inches. There’s a long history of technology being used to improve the way those measurements are taken and communicated, from the introduction of instant replay to the use of computer graphics to overlay information on live broadcasts. This year the NFL is taking a major step forward in the use of technology to track the game by having all players wear location-tracking tags during play.
In the announcement last month, the NFL referred to the data they’ll be collecting as “Next Gen Stats” -- real-time statistics on players’ location and speed, available to coaches and fans alike. It’s powered by Zebra Technologies’ MotionWorks system, which uses ultra-wideband communications and RFID receivers placed around the stadium to track quarter-sized tags attached to each player’s equipment.
For coaches, teams and players, the system offers unprecedented insights into the action on the field and allows deeper analysis of player performance, which could revolutionize in-game strategy and training regimens. Data-hungry fans will also benefit from the increased level of detail, and even casual viewers will see the data integrated into the broadcast experience with new ways to visualize and simulate the game.
The MotionWorks systems will be installed in the 15 stadiums that host games for Thursday Night Football, and all 32 NFL teams will participate in the data collection when playing in those cities. The 2014 season begins Sept. 4.
Visit Zebra Technologies’ website to learn more about how MotionWorks can be integrated into sports of all kinds, or check out the video below.
Author: Ted Burnham