Sports tracking

Sports tracking – digitalization in the field of sports

Sport is a magnet for millions of people around the globe. And team sports played in huge stadiums are all about the energy that reaches us as spectators watching the action live or transmitted to us in the comfort of our own homes via digital media. Sports officials and fans want access to a range of relevant information and background analyses. This is where jogmo comes in – a sports tracking system for data on player positions, ball or puck position, and the physical fitness of players that is brought to you in real time and with unprecedented precision.

 

Digitalization is fast infiltrating virtually every aspect of our lives - and it’s no different with sport, with fans and spectators increasingly expecting to be directly connected to sporting events. Players and coaches expect in-depth insights from player or object position data to allow them to change tactics mid-game. In training situations, objective, continuous athlete fitness monitoring is just as important because it enables coaches to tailor training programs to get the best performance outcomes. Given the strong competition in sports leagues or between teams and service providers, those with the lion’s share of information along with quick and easy access to game action will be the ones to succeed. In complex, fast team sports such as hockey the use of tracking and data analytics systems paves the way for sports reporting of the future and creates an entirely new way of engaging sports fans, taking the experience of the game straight to you in the comfort of your home or at the tap of a button on your smartphone.

The systems approach to positioning

© Fraunhofer IIS
jogmo displays players’ vital signs during the game in real time

In professional sport, the benefit of the jogmo tracking system is its systems approach, which is tailored toward the specific challenges associated with team sports. The tracking system uses a combination of local positioning technology, signal processing, and wireless technology centered around a dedicated microelectronic integrated circuit to meet the practical requirements for interference immunity, 3D data precision, and temporal resolution. The result is a system that delivers what it promises – reliable and accurate live sports tracking for games played in major sports halls and arenas. After all, the only way to analyze or grasp the sheer complexity of dynamic team sports such as hockey or soccer is to track every single movement, every single player move across the entire rink or field. To do so, the position of people or objects fitted with miniature radio transmitters are calculated, analyzing runtime differences between the signals it picks up. Dedicated antennas with a defined phase center, installed around the rink or playing field, receive the wireless signals and transmit them to a central computer unit. Positions are updated as many as 2,000 times a second and to within just a few centimeters. To facilitate worldwide use, the system operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency band commonly used across the globe.

“From the try-outs to the dug-outs”

Originally developed as a soccer analytics system, jogmo was first installed in a pilot set-up in Max-Morlock Stadium in Nuremberg and at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. It was also tried out in Leinster’s stadium in Dublin when there were Rugby European Cup holders.

“Out onto the ice” – let the game begin!

The hockey league teams have a particularly strong affinity for tracking technology. And it was this very environment that set the benchmarks for a winning system: robustness, speed and precision. Radio-based tracking systems have many a challenge to surmount: strong reflections off the surface of the ice, high speeds and the momentum of the game, frequent quick subbing, and strong signal interference from thousands of people in the stadium using WiFi networks operating in the same frequency band. On top of this was the not insignificant matter of integrating the microchip into the puck – the electronics and the battery have to be able to withstand speeds of up to 160 kilometers per hour and acceleration forces of up to ten times the force of gravity across a 60-meter-long, 30-meter-wide rink. In fact, the level of mechanical robustness required is comparable only to aerospace applications. Plus, the dimensions, weight and, for example, elasticity of the puck have to remain identical, with no difference between the microchipped puck and a conventional puck in terms of robustness and performance.

»Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.«

Wayne Gretzky – All-time NHL great

Since 2014, the radio-based tracking system has been being used for live data feeds and real-time analytics for hockey games. In 2015, having undergone continuous improvements, a pilot system was installed at Nuremberg stadium, home to the Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers. The pilot system was used during training and in the play-offs for the German Ice Hockey League. Learning about jogmo in the trade press, representatives of the National Hockey League (NHL) visited the stadium in Nuremberg to see the system for themselves and get a better picture of its capabilities and potential. Tests in the Prudential Center in New Jersey soon followed in 2016 as part of an international tracking systems evaluation program run by the NHL. The results speak for themselves: jogmo ranked far higher in terms of accuracy, reliability across the entire surface area of the rink as well as its integrated systems approach. Fraunhofer IIS demonstrated successfully the tracking technology throughout the 2018 NHL All-Star Game in Tampa, Florida. In January 2019, jogmo was showcased at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In the same month, the player and puck tracking technology was demonstrated at the NHL All-Star Game in San José, California.

Video

NHL All-Star Game 2019 | Highlights with new puck and player tracking technology | NBC Sports

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