Six small high-definition cameras, about half the size of a basketball, are now positioned in the rafters above the arena’s court. These cameras are the backbone of a system called SportVU, which tracks players’ every move using optical recognition and generates data for analysis in real time.
“We are able to capture data you couldn’t capture without this technology even if you wanted to,” SportVU’s Brian Kopp tells Txchnologist. “Twenty-five times every second our system is recording the time, the exact position of each player on an X/Y axis and the ball on an X/Y/Z axis. The software uses complex algorithms to turn that raw data into something that can be digested.”
The system uses color and lighting to identify objects and jersey numbers to recognize individual players — team lineups and player numbers are stored in a database that the system uses to distinguish athletes as they play.
Complex algorithms take the millions of raw data points collected to create player and team profiles. As the game progresses, the tracking software compiles and logs how far players run, their average speed and the areas of the court where they perform best in terms of rebounds, steels, shooting, assists and more. At the end of a game, a report then breaks down player and team performance.