Zebra Technologies uses RFID chips in players' shoulder pads to track their location and movement around the field.
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Zebra Technologies, the official on-field player-tracking provider of the NFL, is revamping its partnership with the league that enters its third season.
The NFL will now offer to each team the data generated by the Zebra Sports Solution—the company’s patented RFID player-tracking technology system—in order to better evaluate athlete performance.
The Zebra Sports Solution provides real-time metrics on players’ speed, acceleration, deceleration, distance traveled and alignment, which is part of the league’s “Next Gen Stats.” Additionally, the data captures where players are on the gridiron, their direction and how their speed or acceleration impacts their on-field performance.
NFL players have an RFID chip in their left and right shoulder pads while 20 radio receivers are strategically installed in the lower and upper levels of the stadiums to pick up player frequencies and collect the data.
The Zebra Sports Solution will be present at all NFL venues, including Wembley Stadium and Twickenham Stadium in London and Estadio Azteca in Mexico City for the NFL International Series. When the partnership began in 2014, only 17 stadiums had instituted the technology.
“We are committed to supporting the league’s ongoing initiative to improve the way fans, teams and networks watch, coach, play and analyze the game,” said Jill Stelfox, vice president and general manager of location solutions for Zebra Technologies, in a press release. “The Zebra Sports Solution enriches all dimensions of the game, from coaches using motion data and aggregated statistics to evaluate athlete performance and strategy to broadcasters integrating next generation data to enrich their broadcast and deepen the fan experience. Our revolutionary player-tracking system promises to continue to improve the entire experience of the 2016 NFL season.”
“We continue to enjoy working with Zebra to give fans and teams a deeper look into the game they love,” said Vishal Shah, NFL vice president of digital media, in a press release. “We are excited for the 2016 season and for the tracking technology to help teams evolve training, scouting and evaluation through increased knowledge of player performance as well as to provide ways for our teams and partners to enhance the fan experience.”
Additionally, Zebra collaborated with Wilson Sporting Goods, which has been a league partner for 76 years, to develop a football containing an RFID tag; the new ball has been used in all 2016 preseason competition. After the preseason, the league’s competition committee will begin reviewing the data to see how it can be used. At this point, there has been no decision regarding using the ball in regular season games.