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Data Management // Big Data Analytics
08:30 AM
Ariella Brown
Ariella Brown

Sports Data Like You've Never Seen Before

A couple of projects by Intel are changing the way athletes fine-tune their performance and fans view games.

You don’t have to be a sports fan to be impressed by what real time analytics can do for sports. With new offerings from Intel, we can now know exactly what speed and what heights a snowboarder achieved, and we can get a 3D view of basketball that goes far beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.

This year’s X Games in Aspen made digital history. Thanks to a partnership between, the competitors’ movements were captured in a way never before possible. It’s all made possible by the Intel Curie Module.

These sensors give feedback in real time. The advantage for the players is more information about their own performance, which, in combination with other data, can help identify what they need to do to get better results. But it’s not just about enhancing the moves for the players. Like the sensors football players wear to generate NFL’s Next Gen Stats, the data is also intended to enhance the fan experience, giving a new level of detail about the sport and the athletes.

Compact enough to fit in the middle of the snowboard, the module is about the size of a roll of tape. Within that space is the sensor, as well as a GPS, compass, and barometer. That module not only takes a read on motion, like speed, direction, and spin, but also precise location and height.

Its technical components include:

  • A low-power, 32-bit Intel Quark microcontroller
  • 384kB flash memory, 80kB SRAM
  • A low-power, integrated DSP Sensor Hub with a proprietary pattern matching accelerator
  • Bluetooth Low Energy o 6-axis combo sensor with accelerometer and gyroscope
  • Battery charging circuitry (PMIC)

What works for snowboarding may also be adapted for skiing -- with a module placed in each ski -- as well as other sports that lend themselves to this form of data capture. But for data capture in basketball, Intel applied something completely different, 360-Degree freeD Replays. In February Intel partnered with the National Basketball Association to deliver 3-D experience to the fans watching live on TNT or on, or through the NBA App.

Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich said the “sweeping views of top plays from virtually any angle” make it possible for “people to experience NBA All-Star like never before.” The way it works is by setting out 28 ultrahigh-definition cameras to capture video images that can then be combined for 3D views from any position.

An article inThe Cauldron, "Digitization Is Upon Us — The Biggest Change In Sports In Over 100 Years," explained that the court is rendered into “a series of "voxels," small cubes to make up the volume of the area. Then, a computer can virtually place a viewer anywhere, providing a complete 360-degree view.

The effect is nothing short of amazing, as you can see in this video of Aaron Gordon’s leap over the mascot to make a slam dunk. Intel certainly appear to have scored a slam dunk of its own with its real time data capture technology.

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