Are you ready for some football?! That's right, it's everyone's favorite time of year again. And this year it's all about location. For the first time ever, the NFL will track your favorite player's speed, direction and distance traveled during each game.
The NFL chose Zebra Technologies to install radio frequency identification (RFID) systems, called MotionWorks, into stadiums so they can track players' vector data real-time. This season, every player will have Bluetooth-compatible Zebra RFID chips embedded into their shoulder pads.
Referees and first-down measuring sticks will also be equipped with RFID tags, meaning that everything but the ball will be tracked (#deflategate not being the reason). Each chip sends its own radio signal that gets picked up by receivers in the stadium and shows the location of each player; enabling teams and fans to monitor their favorites on the field. The tracking system is so precise, it knows which way a player is facing and how smoothly he is moving around the field.
Viewers at home will be able to see this data real-time with the new NFL 2015 app for Xbox One and Windows 10 - both are set to launch at the end of August. The app includes a feature called Next Gen Stats that displays each player as a digital avatar. The NFL Next Gen Stats feature is unique in that it enables the Zebra MotionWorks RFID chips to track player position on the field, velocity and distance covered while additionally showing highlights from in-game on one dashboard.
Instead of using GPS systems to track players, the RFID tags are very basic and easy to implement. The accelerometer data can only be transferred when a specific threshold is crossed and position tracking is enabled during live plays.
Speaking of the ultimate fan experience, imagine watching your favorite players' position real-time but in ultra 4K high definition? 4K ultra HD quality will soon make its way to the NFL, amplifying viewing experience along with its new tracking system. The NFL has been experimenting with 4K cameras to get the ultimate zoom-in action shot. 4K cameras offer the highest possible picture quality with four times the resolution of a traditional 1080 HD. While the NFL will broadcast in 4K, the hardware needed for this is not quite there yet. For now, fans will have to rely on just the position tracking addition to the NFL.
As imaging solutions go beyond HD, it is essential to perform real-time image processing within the design of cameras and camcorders. Xilinx FPGA and SoCs integrate high speed connection from the latest 4K sensors, enabling distinct all-programmable image processing and encoding capabilities.
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