This summer, the NFL has officially partnered with Zebra Technologies, awarding them the business of creating an RFID solution for tracking players throughout games.
After a year of testing the use of RFID with various companies throughout 18 stadiums, the NFL recently announced that they are purchasing this technology from Zebra. The use of RFID technology is intended to both assist coaches in analyzing their players performances, and to escalate the fan experience.
By embedding RFID location beacons into the shoulder pads of every NFL player, each person will have their speed and distance, as well as an accurate map of their route, recorded and available in real time. Viewers at home will be able to track this data alongside the game through the NFL 2015 app for Xbox One and Windows 10. These numbers will be viewable under 'Next Gen Stats' in the app, where fans can view the speed of every player throughout each game and switch between individuals at will. To increase engagement, there is also a gaming aspect – choose the player you think will run the fastest or furthest during the game, and see how your guess pans out.
The RFID tags will only need to be installed once at the start of the season and can last for years, while Zebra’s technology has proven to be incredibly precise with a latency time of just half a second. Zebra has high expectations for the impacts of this technology, stating that, “new player tracking insights will change how fans relate to sports through cross-channel engagement and forever transform coaching and player personnel evaluations".