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Technology

Submission + - How repurposed military tracking technology is remaking the NBA (fastcodesign.com)

PatPending writes: FTA:

The technology was originally developed to track missiles. Now, SportVU systems hang from the catwalks of 10 NBA arenas, tiny webcams that silently track each player as they shoot, pass, and run across the court, recording each and every move.

Their system captures the X/Y coordinates of all the players and refs--along with the X/Y/Z (3-D) coordinates of the ball--25 times every second (or 72,000 times a game). Algorithms take into account all sorts of variables to keep the system accurate, from the lines on the court to the reflections of flashing billboards. Another layer of software at a central server puts this raw data together into something meaningful. Information as specific as player ball touches and dribbles can be calculated within 60 seconds of being spotted by SportVU cams. Stats can generate these values in simple, automated reports.

On one hand, deeper data seems inevitable--and no one is disagreeing that SportVU has incredible potential with deep data--on the other, with no teams all that interested in sharing how they’re potentially innovating with that data, it’s making his job no easier. “I know for a fact some of those teams are using it quite a bit. They don’t tell me exactly what they’re doing with it. Some teams are fairly open and they ask for our help. Others are very secretive,” Kopp says. “Because, for a while, it is all about how you’re using it. Once they figure out something they think is meaningful, they don’t want anyone to get a whiff of it.”

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