Nike Files Patent For Game-Changing Wireless Team Sports Tracking System That Measures Player Performance In Real Time

While college basketball teams around the country are gearing up for conference tournaments, which then lead into March Madness, the folks at Nike are working on technology that would make it easier for teams to keep track of athletes’ performance metrics in real-time, record stats and make informed decisions about player substitutions. As beneficial as this tech could be for teams monitors their multi-million dollar franchise players, it could be also be an [entertainment value] boon for fans to get an even more nuanced look at their favorite players.

This information is provided to us courtesy of two Nike patent filings that describe a wireless vitals tracking system that would incorporated into an athlete’s shoe. Nike’s wireless implementation allows up to 28 Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices to connect to a computer for data processing, after which it is displayed using a GUI. This would more than enough to monitor one (or more) competitive teams on a playing field/court from a central location.

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Using multiple modules allows Nike to get around bandwidth issues that can arise with traditional BLE 4.1 and 4.2 implementations that have attempted to achieve the same end results with vitals tracking of multiple users. The patent filing reads:

In contrast to existing solutions, such as solutions comprising of multiple cameras mounted around a field or area, embodiments can enable any mobile computing device that can be communicatively coupled to a peripheral device to track and monitor player movement… 

In other embodiments, sensor data received by the peripheral device and processed by the mobile computing device can correspond to various sports equipment to indicate, for example, speed and position of a ball. In addition, other sensor data, such as biometric sensor data comprising energy expenditure, heart rate, blood pressure, and so forth, can be received by the peripheral device for the mobile computing device to process in real-time.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to sports applications; it could be used in basketball, baseball or even football to track critical player information. Just think of an NBA coach being able to compare statistics like vertical height or acceleration/responsiveness between players. Should one player’s metrics start to show considerable drop offs, a substitution could be made. If you're a Lebron fan, wouldn't it be nice to see just how much air he got on that alley-oop dunk?

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To get an idea of how this would work in practice, take a look at this 2012 video Nike+ integration in footwear that pairs with a single iPhone:

Even in this early implementation, the BLE transceiver is capable of sending data like vertical height, function as a step counter, and measure your quickness when working out. Now imagine even more stats being measured (i.e. G-forces from an impact in football) encompassing the whole team in real-time. This could really come in to play given the concussion protocols that are implemented across college football and in the NFL.

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Thanks to inventors Shannon Atkinson and Holli Pheil, who are listed on this patent filing, Nike has some breakthrough technology in store for sports fans and coaches alike.