As fans welcome the 2015 NFL season on Sept. 10, the new season will also mark the arrival of the Internet of Things in the football league.
It was previously reported that the NFL has teamed up with Zebra Technologies to deploy its MotionWorks RFID sensors, which will be embedded in the shoulder pads of all the players.
The sensors will each emit unique radio frequencies that will be captured by the 20 receivers that have been put in all the stadiums that are used by the NFL. Through the technology, massive amounts of data regarding the players, including field position, distance traveled, speed and acceleration can be tracked in real time.
The NFL is planning to use the data that will be generated by the RFID sensors to power the NFL 2015 app for Windows 10 and the Xbox One. The data will allow for features such as "Next Gen Replay," which will give fans the ability to look into the statistics of players that are included in highlight clips that are seen in the app.
In addition, the collected data will also be given to broadcasters, players and coaching staff, and will be used for more informative in-stadium displays.
According to NFL Emerging Products and Technology senior director Matt Swensson, the league has been looking to provide new statistics to fans, with such new data also possibly increasing the efficiency of workflow around the game.
Zebra Technologies launched the Zatar software platform in 2013, which started the company's transition into the Internet of Things and machine to machine applications. Also in 2013, Zebra Technologies launched the MotionWorks Sports Solution, which is the technology behind the team-up with the NFL.
The technology was tested in the 2014 NFL season, with 2,000 players equipped with the RFID sensors and 18 of the 31 NFL stadiums having receivers installed. Over the season, 17,000 plays were measured with NextGen Stats, with over 1.7 billion sets of X-Y player coordinates being measured, sent and stored over the course of games.
According to Zebra Technologies VP and general manager for location solutions Jill Stelfox, each stadium in the NFL is connected to a San Jose-based command center, which operates as central command for all the data being transmitted.
The data will not yet be available during games for the players and coaches, which is a feature that may be possible in the future. However, the data is available for evaluations after each game, with the data also possibly helpful for training purposes.
As the NFL season kicks off, the league's adoption of the Internet of Things could prove to be very valuable to everyone involved, including broadcasters, players, coaches and fans.