Following in the footsteps of the NBA, which introduced player tracking technology in every one of its arenas for the 2013-14 season, the NFL has announced its own player tracking system. Unlike the NBA system provided by Stats LLC, which uses cameras to collect location data, the NFL will use the MotionWorks system from Zebra Technologies that relies on RFID tags that will be placed inside player shoulder pads.
The move is part of the NFL's "Next Gen Stats" initiative, which is designed to give fans, as well as coaches and broadcasters, a greater insight into the game. The use of RFID technology will allow real-time tracking of various on-field statistics, including such things as current location, acceleration, total distance run and even orientation, with an accuracy of down to 6 inches (15 cm).
The implementation of RFID technology will be limited to 17 stadiums during the 2014 NFL season, requiring receivers to be installed throughout said stadiums. Once the data is collected, it is sent to data hubs where it is compiled into a database. The data can then be outputted in various ways, such as graphics and tables, depending on the intended audience.
"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."
The stadiums to be fitted out with the RFID receivers for the 2014 season are Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay, Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, New England, Oakland, San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington, Detroit and New Orleans, with information to be gathered from all 32 teams.
All images courtesy NFL