Check out how the NFL has been using RFID sensors to monitor every player’s movement in every NFL game this season. Two location beacons, made by Zebra Technologies, are placed on each shoulder pad of every NFL player. Data from those beacons is transmitted to 20 stationary receivers throughout each stadium. Using the data, the NFL can measure each player’s position, speed, acceleration, and distance covered, in real time.
The NFLplans to use the data generated to power the NFL 2015 app for Xbox One and Windows 10, allowing for things like “Next Gen Replay” that will allow fans to call up stats for each player tied into highlight clips posted on the app. But that’s just the beginning. The data will be fed to broadcasters, leveraged for in-stadium displays and provided to coaching staff and players.
“We’ve always had these traditional NFL stats,” says Matt Swensson, senior director of Emerging Products and Technology at the NFL. “The league has been very interested in trying to broaden that and bring new statistics to the fans. Along the way, there’s been more realization about how the data can be leveraged to make workflow more efficient around the game.”
You can see how the NFL has been using the data at their Next Gen Stats page. Check out this Anatomy of a Play breakdown of Buffalo Bills wide-receiver Sammy Watkins, burning Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes for a 63-yard touchdown pass. The sensors on the shoulder pads, along with the 20 stationary sensors in the stadium mean data on Watkins’ top speed and separation from Grimes during the route can be collected.
Next time you’re out playing football, bring along your PocketLab and see what data you can collect. The NFL data gathering solution is very different than PocketLab’s (and much more expensive), but similar applications can be applied. Use the accelerometer and the gyroscope to capture your movement as you run around the field. Place PocketLab inside a foam football and measure the angular velocity of your best spiral. If you’re playing the other football, put one PocketLab on your cleat and the other in a foam soccer ball to optimize the spin on your corner kicks.
The best athletes in the world are using data to improve their game. With PocketLab, you can too.