Player-tracking system to allow for real-time stats in the NFL


(Courtesy Zebra Technologies)

A tiny gizmo is about to take NFL fans into a deeper level of the game.

In 17 stadiums, Zebra Technologies’ real-time location system will use receivers and radio-frequency identification tags in players’ shoulder pads to transmit information about their every movement. The RTLS will provide data on acceleration, speed, routes and distance that will be compiled in a Next Gen Stats database.

“Working with Zebra will give fans, teams, coaches and players a deeper look into the game they love,” Vishal Shah, the NFL’s vice-president of media strategy said in a statement from the league. “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.”


(Courtesy Zebra Technologies)

The 15 teams that host “Thursday Night Football” –  Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay, Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, New England, Oakland, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington –will have the devices, along with Detroit and New Orleans.

All players will wear two of the tiny sensors in the first phase of the project and they’ll transmit data to a cloud for instant in-stadium use, according to USA Today. For the 2015, Zebra is working on a device that will use Bluetooth technology to monitor the heart rate, lung capacity and temperature of players.

“That’ll be cool to know how fast people accelerate, how far they’ve gone on each route,” Arizona Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd told Tom Pelissero. “We don’t really think about it, but to get everyone’s thoughts on it, everyone outside of football, it’s pretty interesting.”


(Courtesy Zebra Technologies)
After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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