A technology developed at EPFL will be used to analyze NBA players

November 14, 2016 by Sarah Bourquenoud
Credit: Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

A new technology developed by PlayfulVision, an EPFL startup bought by Second Spectrum last year, records all aspects of sporting events for subsequent analysis in augmented reality. This system will be used in all National Basketball Association (NBA) games in the United States starting in 2017.

Will and computer vision revolutionize the ? That's what Second Spectrum is counting on. This company uses a multi-camera system to capture and analyze the athletes' every move. The aim is to see how players pull off a great pass, for example, and to assess whether or not certain shots should have been taken. This technology was developed at EPFL and then bought by Second Spectrum last year. It has caught the attention of the largest sports leagues in the world, including the NBA, which has just sealed a seven-year deal to use it in all official games starting in 2017.

Revealing the invisible

"Our technology makes the invisible visible, providing very detailed information to the fans, the commentators and the coaches," said Dr. Horesh Ben Shitrit, who co-founded PlayfulVision together with Professor Pascal Fua and is now the Director of Computer Vision products at Second Spectrum Switzerland.

The system is based on optical trackers that capture every move by every player and by the ball, recording their exact coordinates 25 times per second. This information will be used to carefully analyze games: body position, shots, rebounds and fouls. "We provide an in-depth understanding of the games, at a greater level of detail than a coach can perceive alone," says Shitrit.

Credit: Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

Augmented reality

This system will be a dream for commentators and fans alike. But it will also be a gold mine for players and coaches who, after studying their – and their opponents' – past games, will adapt their strategy and training accordingly. "Up until now, fans had a sense that a given pass was really hard or that a given shot shouldn't have been attempted," said Jeff Su, the CTO of Second Spectrum. "Now, we can quantify these things and show them in images. Our approach to the game will transform the fans' experience and how they perceive and rate the athletes' performance, thanks to both augmented and virtual reality."

Second Spectrum continues to develop its projects in close collaboration with EPFL. Funding for its projects has just been approved by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), which promotes linkages between universities and industry.

Explore further: The NFL joins the data revolution in sports

Related Stories

The NFL joins the data revolution in sports

September 22, 2016

In some potentially game-changing news for the way we understand professional football, the National Football League began the 2016 preseason by placing tracking sensors in its footballs for the first time. The chips are ...

Rapid Replay feature targets NBA global audience

October 20, 2016

The National Basketball Association's international fans will be able to watch highlights in near real-time as part of changes to the league's subscription service being rolled out for the new season, officials said Thursday.

Playing tennis on a smart court

December 4, 2015

Technis, an EPFL start-up, is bringing augmented reality to the tennis court. Their newly developed technology could be used for other sports in the future.

Statistics that help win a match (w/ Video)

May 29, 2014

A tracking system for athletes, currently used by the Montreux Volley Masters, provides real-time statistics during the game on players and the ball. Developed by Playfulvision, an EPFL start-up, the device will soon be available ...

Recommended for you

Dutch open 'world's first 3D-printed bridge'

October 17, 2017

Dutch officials toasted on Tuesday the opening of what is being called the world's first 3D-printed concrete bridge, which is primarily meant to be used by cyclists.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.