Senior Bowl Rugby uses UWB RFID technology to monitor player performance

The U.S. Undergraduate Rugby Senior Bowl Competition is using RFID technology to understand how players play and move in order to improve their practice and team strategy. This solution is provided by Zebra Technologies, which offers active UWB tags, card readers, and Zebra software to understand the position, speed, and direction of each player and ball during the competition and training. Media provided to fans.

The Senior Bowl is held once a year and invites about 100 players with a good NFL draft prospect to participate each year. The players are divided into two teams for the game. The South and North teams are coached by the coaching staff of two NFL teams.

Executive director Phil Savage of the Senior Bowl said that we are very active in the technology that can improve the coach, player or fan experience.

Currently, several NFL and university teams have begun to use Zebra's RFID technology to track player performance. All NFL teams can receive match day tracking data through the Official Player Tracking technology that Zebra has partnered with the NFL. About one-third of the teams use Zebra's training solution while training. The Zebra training system is similar to the technology deployed on the NFL arena. Senior Bowl training and competitions are held in the Ladd-Peebles Stadium, so you can use the RFID facilities of the arena to read tag-related data.

John Pollard, vice president of business development at Zebra Sports, explained that during training, the players wore UWB RFID-tagged plastic layers on their shoulder pads. By embedding the tag in the soccer ball, the system can track information such as the speed, height, and speed of the ball during kicking or throwing, and this data can also be bound with kicker information.

To read all the data, the stadium installed a total of 22 Zebra UWB receivers. During competitions and training, UWB tags on players and balls send signals on the 6.35 GHz and 6.75 GHz frequency bands multiple times per second. The Zebra receiver can read these signals up to 325 feet away.

After Zebra software reads the data, it will calculate such information as the speed of each player's running, the distance between other players and the player, and information such as the speed and degree of rotation, height, distance of the ball dropping. Pollard said that this process takes only a few seconds, and then the data will be forwarded to the Senior Bowl's management software and displayed to fans and media through social media. This information can be used not only to identify the player's strengths and weaknesses, but also to determine if the player is tired.

Pollard said: "We are excited about the performance of the system and the data captured. Through this technology, we can provide more information to fans and teams."

Savage pointed out that these data not only allow the audience to understand the scene, but also provide decision-making reference for the draft. Many scouts rely on on-site observations to judge players, but the technology can also provide strong support.

Savage said that in the future, he envisages attaching RFID tags to racks, goal lines, etc. Pollard predicts that these data will be displayed on the big screen in 2019 and will be provided to fans as part of the race broadcast.

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