We’ve followed sports from the players’, coaches’ and sometimes even the referees’ perspective.
So what are we missing? The ball’s perspective, of course.
How the ball moves, where it goes and who is around it are all things that we’ve tried but struggled to completely objectify in all different sports. And now an Australian company is looking to answer those questions.
Catapult Sports will be testing out its innovative ball-tracking monitor, SmartBall, this spring in the Australian Football League’s pre-season NAB Cup. The technology combines a sensor inside the ball with fist-sized GPS trackers worn by players to create several types of information that were previously difficult to obtain.
The sensor will allow teams and fans a more complete understanding of how a ball moves throughout the game. How, for example, certain defensive strategies affect ball movement. And how ball movement changes as players tire toward the end of the game.
Using the information obtained by the GPS trackers, trainers will have a better sense of a player’s speed, motion and how fatigued he or she is.
The chip weighs roughly half an ounce, so it doesn’t drastically affect the weight of the ball. Meanwhile the GPS device is strapped into a vest worn by the players.
If all goes well for Catapult in its Australian test run, sports fans could see the technology enter in the American sports landscape. At least, that’s the goal.
“We see the ball tracking as having enormous potential for Australian football and rugby this year, but have our sights on soccer and (American) football in the near future,” Catapult co-founder and COO Igor van de Griendt told Wired. “We’re all pretty excited about where the technology is headed.”