Fans Track NFL Players through Shoulder-Pad Sensors

NFL Player Tracking

The National Football League is a fast-paced, highly competitive juggernaut, and Fantasy Football has become a national pastime, with casual fans partaking in leagues every year.

The ability to get statistics, analysis, and content in real-time has proven immensely popular with fans, and now the NFL may have found a new way to get fans even more involved in the game.

This upcoming season, quarter-sized sensors will be placed inside players’ shoulder pads to allow their every move to be tracked and converted into metrics.

For now, this information will only be available to the networks that broadcasts games live—the data will be used as overlays to show distances between players, for instance.

But the NFL wants to integrate this new technology into Fantasy Football apps and its own NFL Now app in the future.

The sensors could also be used by coaches to hone performance of players and possibly prevent injuries.

Although players on each of the NFL’s 32 teams will receive a sensor, only stadiums that host Thursday Night Football games will be able to transmit the information from the sensors – 17 venues in all including Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay, Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, New England, Oakland, San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington, as well as Detroit and New Orleans.

Fans will be to able see distance and speed of players, and future applications might include the capacity to scheme and design plays based on the time it takes to cover ground and the ability to change direction. Understanding the way receivers move will be especially helpful from an analytical perspective.

The trackers, which use radio frequency identification to measure player movements, will be produced in partnership with Zebra Technologies, a company whose technology tracks everything from player movements to hospital patients and police tickets.

“Working with Zebra will give fans, teams, coaches and players a deeper look into the game they love,” says Vishal Shah, NFL Vice President of media strategy.

“Zebra’s tracking technology will help teams to evolve training, scouting and evaluation through increased knowledge of player performance, as well as provide ways for our teams and partners to enhance the fan experience.”

Image: Zebra Technologies/YouTube

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