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Wireless sensor network ups the ante of sports broadcasts

Posted: 03 Mar 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Zebra Technologies  Sony  Altair  wireless sensor 

The number of applications that wireless sensors support nowadays is remarkable. In particular, low-power, three-axis accelerometers and high-performance gyroscopes are found in drones and mobile camera modules, smartphones, mobile communication and gaming device, augmented reality systems, virtual reality, image stabilisation and industrial measurement applications.

Sensors can perform tiny, discrete sensing and measurement functions or they can be networked together to create an intelligent, big data approach to things such as dynamic motion analysis.

We saw a working example of this during the recent Super Bowl broadcast. Using an array of ultra-low power, quarter-sized motion sensors embedded in Bronco and Panther shoulder pads, the NFL created a sensor-based system to assist game commentators called 'Next Gen Stats.' The embedded sensors enable real-time monitoring and measurement of a broad range of player motions, including running speed, or the 'closing distance' between a receiver and defender. The system gives announcers in the glass broadcast booth a unique perspective on what's happening on the field, with stats that enhance their play-by-play call of the game.

Wireless sensor network

Figure 1: Sensors can perform tiny, discrete sensing and measurement functions or they can be networked together to create an intelligent, big data approach to things such as dynamic motion analysis.

The NFL's embedded motion sensors are part of a league and game-wide network. They communicate with a central system via a radio-frequency (RFID) system put in place by Zebra Technologies. It was the second full season that the NFL used Zebra's tech to glean the kind of insights that cater to stat-heads and fantasy-football obsessives.

The shoulder pad motion sensors emit a signal beacon to other sensors around the stadium, which triangulate the signal to pinpoint the location of a player within a 6in accuracy. The sensors send out those beacons many times per second, where they are processed by the motion sensing stats system.

Zebra has applied the same system-level approach to generating big data from sensor-based systems to other sectors, including healthcare, retail, manufacturing, transportation logistics and other industries.

Semiconductor component manufacturers are carefully tracking these mobile system design trends, especially the need to integrate low-power sensors into next generation wireless network infrastructure.

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