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By Lumistar's Chief Scientist

August 15, 2013

Infrared Missile Tracking Tech Used On B-Ball Players

infrared basketball court

Now coming to basketball: using infrared tracking cameras and 3D imaging analytic software — technology used by the military to track missiles. The camera system with it’s 6 infrared cameras mounted in the rafters, three per half court, captures 25 images per second, that’s 72,000 time-stamped images per game on average. Within 60 seconds coaches know specific player information such as ball touches and number of dribbles on their computer or iPad. Later, after the game is finished a detailed report follows. How each individual team uses this information remains a secret guarded closer than launch codes. 15 teams have signed up, costing $100k per team, per year.

It was meant for missiles but it’s all about the metrics. Every player movement, every pass, every shot. Some examples: passes per possession, fouls drawn, how many times a player gets away with fouls, how a player performs when the defense is 3.5 feet away vs. 5 feet (it’s that precise), which players held the ball for more than five seconds on a possession and an individual player’s hottest areas to score from just to name a few — information central to a game’s outcome but not found anywhere near a traditional box score. Luke Ridnour, for example, ran 3.33 miles in one game, the eighth-longest in one season. It’s reportedly still in the developmental phase, with most experts agreeing only 10% of the system’s potential is currently being utilized. This infrared missile tracking technology has the potential to change the sport from how players are recruited, how a player’s worth is calculated and how it’s coached. For example, instead of pulling a player when he looks tired, coaches could review how many sprints he’s completed during the game, how many times he’s reached his peak speed, or how much he’s run in relation to other games. How injuries are treated in the future will change as well. As an example, the cameras could help teams evaluate players returning from knee injuries. Doctors could limit him to running ‘two miles’ during a game instead of giving a minute limit which is ambiguous in terms of how much stress is being put on a knee.

If the entire NBA purchases this technology, even coaches who are resisting this level of information who are badly behind compared to other teams will have new advantages. This infrared technology is currently only being used by the NBA in the U.S. but the inventor is looking into modifications for the NFL as well. Imagine the scoreboard of the future: ‘Brought to you by Pepsi: How many miles Michael Jordan has run so far.’

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