Smart Sports: Professional Soccer Launches Data Viz System
Big data has been a recent phenomenon that has been receiving a lot of attention lately. Normally, when articles about big data are written, they are typically about the various challenges and opportunities facing corporations. Common issues include complexities of capturing, organizing and making sense out of the vast volume of data that they are collecting. While there is no doubt that big data presents many opportunities for businesses, they aren’t the only ones out there striving to take advantage of it.
If you are at all like me and have watched some of the European Championships that took place this summer in Poland and the Ukraine, then you probably remember seeing television ads for Adidas’ smart MiCoach tools. These ads touted about the dawn of smart soccer…er excuse me football. Interestingly enough, organizations like Major League Soccer (MLS) were clearly listening. This year the MLS and Adidas partnered to host what was dubbed “the world’s first smart soccer game.”
During the 2012 MLS All Star Game in Philly, for the first time players participated in using Adidas’ MiCoach. MiCoach consisted of a small green device placed between soccer player’s shoulder blades. These green cells transmitted vital data back to iPads accessible by each team’s coaches and their respective training staff. With MiCoach, coaches (and eventually fans) during the All Star game were able to “monitor biometrics on their players, including heart rate, speed, and power, packaged in a slick user interface.”
The expectation is that every MLS team will use the Adidas MiCoach for the 2013 season. According to Adidas interactive VP Paul Gaudio, big data “can help coaches and trainers make better decisions. MiCoach isn’t just about getting more out of players, but also about knowing when to back off – for example, when an injured player is recovering.” Being able to accurately track player recovery and in-game performance should not only help make the game more exciting, but also help coaches preserve the health of their players. Imagine the benefits coaches will have, when they suddenly have access to an amazing depth of information, letting them tailor games and training regiments to fit each individual player’s unique needs.
Teams and sports leagues are also hoping that tools like the Adidas MiCoach will help bring an added level of fan interactivity to sports. As tools like the MiCoach are opened up to fans, sports leagues are hoping they will take sports in America to a higher level. For example, imagine the rush of fans being able to look down at their mobile device and see how their favorite player’s heartbeat changes as he scores – that should be incredible. However, there is a counter argument brewing. There is a concern that by giving fans access to vast amounts of data during the game, it could transform sporting events into another screen-based experience. “Imagine a scenario where stadiums are filed with fans hunched over their phones.”
Regardless of your views, it’s apparent that the effects of big data will be far reaching. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see how big data and the tools that will come out of it will shape our future.