Posted by: psilva | August 13, 2014

The Internet of Sports


Did you see what the NFL is doing this year with sensors?

NFLSensor Image - Courtesy NFL Earlier this month they announced a partnership with Zebra Technologies, a company that provides RFID chips for applications from ‘automotive assembly lines to dairy cows’ milk production.’ This season there will be sensors in the player’s shoulder pads which will track all their on field movements. This includes player acceleration rates, top speed, length of runs, and even the distance between a ball carrier and a defender. Next year they’ll add sensors for breathing, temperature and heart rate. More stats than ever and could change the game for-ever. Imagine coaches being able to examine that data and instantly call a play based on it. Play by play. To me it somewhat takes away that ‘feel’ for the game flow but also having data to confirm or deny that feeling might make for exciting games. Maybe lots of 0-0 overtimes or a 70-0 blowout. Data vs. data. Oh how do I miss my old buzzing electric football game.

The yardsticks will have chips along with the refs and all that data is picked up by 20 RFID receivers placed throughout the stadium. Those, in turn, are wired to a hub and server which processes the data. 25 times a second, data will be transmitted to the receivers and the quarter sized sensors use a typical watch battery. The data goes to the NFL ‘cloud’ and available in seconds. The only thing without a sensor is the ball. But that’s probably coming soon since we already have the 94Fifty sensor basketball.

And we’ve had the NASCAR RACEf/x for years and this year they are going to track every turn of the wrench with RFID tracking in the pits and sensors on the crew. Riddell has impact sensors in their helmets to analyze, transmit and alert if an impact exceeds a predetermined threshold. They can measure the force of a NBA dunk; they can recognize the pitcher’s grip and figure out the pitch; then the bat sensor that can measure impact to the ball, the barrel angle of their swings, and how fast their hands are moving; and they are tracking soccer player movement in Germany. Heck, many ordinary people wear sensor infused bracelets to track their activity.

We’ve come a long way since John Madden sketched over a telestrator years ago and with 300 plus lb. players running around with sensors, this is truly Big Data. It also confirms my notion that the IoT should really be the Internet of Nouns – the players, the stadiums and the yardsticks.

ps

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