Friday, August 8, 2014

5 Technology Innovations That Are Changing Football

Get out the chips, dip, and brews; preseason football has begun. Soon we’ll see cooler weather, clashing helmets, flags and penalties and…technology? 

That’s right, technology. The century-and-a-half-year-old sport is not immune to innovation, and coming this season, there is some very cool technology making its way into the game. Let’s take a look at 5 innovations that are changing football.


      Riddell is working on a helmet that will help to avoid concussions by minimizing the impact of powerful hits by diffusing the blow and alerting the sideline through sensors.  The new helmet, called Speed Flex, will be rolled out on college fields this fall and may move into other leagues based on the success and reliability of the product.

In as little as a decade, we may even be able to see concussions through medical testing equipment. Concussions aren’t currently viewable on CT scans and many are missed because of this. The athletic and medical communities are making great strides to ensure players’ safety. 


      Tired of waiting in line for your $6 hotdog? NFL fields are creating apps that allow you
to order food right from your seat. If you’re sitting pretty in an expensive seat, your food can be delivered right to you. Otherwise, you have to go to a pickup location.

If you have a front-row seat on the couch at home, there is a new NFL app available to Xbox One and Windows 8 that allows you to personalize your game experience with different teams and players, media choices, and Fantasy Football. 


      Goal-line technology was unveiled during the 2014 World Cup. This method uses a series of high-speed video cameras to track the position of a ball using triangulation and then alerts officials whether the score was good or not. Although designed for tennis, cricket, and soccer, goal-line technology, or Hawk-Eye, could be easily adapted for use in the NFL.

Paul Hawkins, inventor of Hawk-Eye, has been talking to American sports leagues such as the NFL to discuss the possible integration of this technology. Goal-line technology would take out the subjective bias of referees on close calls, something that fans will appreciate. 


      Next Gen Stats, developed by Zebra Technologies, will use real-time location system to track players and officials and collect and provide data such as speed, position, and distance. These pieces of data will be used to generate new reports and statistics that will change coaching, training, and the fans’ game experience. This works through a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag sewn into players’ jerseys.
“Working with Zebra will give fans, teams, coaches, and players a deeper look into the game they love,” said Vishal Shah, NFL Vice President of Media Strategy.


      Microsoft has partnered with the NFL to provide Surface tablets for coaches and players on the sidelines. Previously, the NFL had used Polaroid pictures or printed sheets with images and information from the play, which took up to 40 seconds to upload. Now, they only have to wait five seconds to receive information from the tablet. The tablets are operating on closed networks to prevent information from being hacked. Coaches and players aren’t Tweeting or taking video of the game, but so far, the Surface tablets have been received well in the football community. 

Safety, statistics, and fan experience seem to be the highest priorities for football innovation currently.  Now that the NFL is using apps, tablets, and concussion technology, who knows what the next few years will bring. 

What impact do you think these advances will have on football? What technology do you think the NFL should adopt?