As injuries continue to play a critical role in the sport of football, the NFL’s “digital athlete” initiative uses artificial intelligence to study players’ movements in hopes of avoiding player injuries.
NFL SVP of Health and Safety Innovation Jennifer Langton broke down how the data collection process works during an exclusive appearance on “The Claman Countdown,” Monday, saying that the technology is “the first” of its kind.
“It is a first. It is a partnership with AWS. And we’ve always called it the next generation of player health and safety at the NFL. What it does is the technology itself uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a precise picture of each player. And when I say each player, it’s the players’ experience in training, practice and game,” Langton explained to FOX Business’ Liz Claman.
The technology enables teams to know what players’ specific needs are as it relates to staying healthy, recovering quickly, and performance optimization. The underlying technology is what the NFL, as Langton explained, is looking to use in the future to predict injuries.
“We collect a vast amount of data. This is one example in shoulder pads, which are worn, of course, all practice and in-game. We have a zebra technology, which is a sensor in the shoulder pad, that captures every single time a player is on the field, whether that is practice or games. What it does is it captures the player’s real-time location, speed, acceleration, and distance,” Langton explained.
Another way that researchers are collecting data is through a mouthguard that records the frequency and intensity of head impact contact.
Langton told Claman that they can retrieve the most data through game footage.
“We have video of all of our practices and we have video, of course, of our games. And so with the sophisticated technology that we are building with AWS, what that allows us to do, like computer vision and machine learning, it allows us to automate in real time,” she explained.
“It actually time synchronizes all of the data points and runs millions of simulations about either an event in the game, so that we can actually have a better understanding of when and how injuries happen. And then from that, we’re able to do risk modeling to give the teams, on a daily basis, which players right now are at a higher risk of injury so that they can change their training loads and measurements,” she continued.
Langton clarified that the technology is in no way meant to overhaul NFL medical teams, but instead, is intended to help trainers work in a more “efficient but smarter fashion” so that they can better manage the training regime and workloads according to each player.
“If we’re able to predict injuries in the NFL, which is our core goal, I think that it will have a profound impact on all sports. But then, from an injury detection as well as an optimization perspective, think about what that could do for the military or other industries as well. So, we’re really excited about the opportunity with AWS in the future,” she concluded.